Nothing ruins a good holiday like the thought of having to return to work. But there are a number of reasons why returning to routine as soon as possible is good for both our physical and mental wellbeing.
Dogs demand it, children thrive on it and most adults excel at it. Aside from providing a sense of structure and familiarity, developing a sustainable routine allows us to develop structure, improved efficiency and momentum.
Select Wellness co-founder Camilla Thompson, who specialises in workplace wellbeing consulting and executive coaching, says while a good routine is imperative at any time of the year, it is particularly so following an extended holiday period where following a set pattern of behaviour may not be as important.
Having dedicated years to study psychology, nutrition and life coaching, Thompson says developing a regular routine is good for your mental health as it reduces anxiety, introduces good habits and eradicates any bad ones.
“If you have had a relaxing break – and school holidays are rarely relaxing – but if you have managed that or have been away, the benefits of getting back into a routine can alleviate stress and anxiety.
“So if you feel overwhelmed with lots to do it will help to get back into your old routines and potentially look at creating some new ones that will be of benefit. If you are in routine you are more likely to feel on top of work and life admin, so this will help you to manage yourself better,” she says.
Thompson, a mother of two and self-described “creature of habit”, says she personally struggles when out of routine, as do her children, with the impact felt more keenly during school holidays and other statutory breaks.
For this reason, she finds it useful to keep in as much routine as she can during the holiday period to help ease her family into the demands of the new year.
“I ease off in some areas but keep consistent in others. It is so easy to get de-railed during the holidays and then it can be very hard to get back into your routine and healthy habits. So if you keep doing some of it, in smaller or less amounts it’s much easier to ramp back up when you need to.”
Thompson says it’s also important to have a game plan when making a return to your post-holiday fitness routines or seeking to incorporate a more disciplined diet into your regular routine.
Try by starting small and setting realistic goals, she says.
“If we have ridiculously high expectations and goals that are hard to achieve or maintain, then we can end up feeling like we have failed and then we give up. It is all about sustainable behaviour change. Micro steps are best, so commit to what is realistic for you and then build upon that incrementally.”
Thompson says her advice is to keep up movement, healthy eating and prioritise sleep during the holidays. That way, even if you indulge more than you normally would then you won’t go back into your routine feeling “sluggish and bloated with low energy”, she says.
While the goal is always to go back to work feeling recharged after a holiday, Thompson says the amount of time it takes to get back into a routine post-holiday will vary from person to person.Those who crave getting back to routine will find it relatively easy, but those who resist a return may take a little longer.
It’s important not to be too hard on ourselves and to practice self-compassion, she says.
“Rather than looking at relapsing from our routines in the holidays, you can look at it as a reset. It cultivates a more positive mindset and doesn’t make us feel like we’ve gone backwards.”