Tips for transitioning back to work after the holidays

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By CASSIE OWENS | The Philadelphia Inquirer

As we say our goodbyes to the holidays, the promise of the new year stands right in front of us. Back to life, back to reality.

If only that transition could always be simple. It’s a time for a reset and new resolutions, all while returning to the work grind. The pressures can be a lot to manage, so The Inquirer gathered self-care tips to help with that to-do list for both professional and personal goals. So, 2020, let’s go.

Don’t beat yourself up

You may be reflecting on the things that you wish you had done differently. Understandable, but don’t get stuck there, said executive coach Amy Jen Su.

“It’s easy after the holidays to beat ourselves up for all that we did or did not do,” she said. Su, the Washington, D.C.-based author of “The Leader You Want to Be: Five Essential Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self Every Day,” gave examples such as arguing with a mother-in-law, or eating too many cookies, or not making progress with a certain project as intended.

“It doesn’t matter at this point; what has transpired has already taken place,” Su said. “Stay present to a smooth transition back to work versus replaying the holidays in your mind. Forgive yourself for any actions or interactions you had that you now regret, learn from them for future action, and move on.”

Ease back into things

Even if your to-do list is super-long, pace yourself. Krystal Reddick-Pollard, founder of Total Life Care Coaching in Elizabeth, N.J., said you should try to avoid overwhelming yourself. Reddick-Pollard recommended planning to give yourself some time to breathe.

“If you can, take breaks every hour or every other hour, for two or three minutes, take a walk, drink some water,” she said. “Try to get up and move your body”

Shesheena Bray, a West Philadelphia therapist and founder of Going Inward Wellness, said that when organizing priorities, go for what’s feasible, for the “low-hanging fruit.” Bray said it’s worth asking, “What are the things that you can take on that (you can accomplish that) can make you feel good?”

Look back to your previous goals

Don’t let your old goals disappear. “I would first encourage people to go back to the commitments you’ve already made,” Bray said. The distance between 2019 and 2020, she noted, is just one day after all. When thinking through those goals, Bray said, see what you want to modify or retool for the new year.

Beyond that, Bray continued, if you have something you’re hoping for, make sure you actually have the room for it, whether that’s new love, new opportunities, and so on. Consider, she said, “intentionally creating space for things that we say that we want.”

Try writing a gratitude list

To reflect on what makes you thankful, Su recommended writing a list. Jot down the good things from the holiday season, to bring a “lens of gratitude” to both your time off and the work you’ll do.

“Reflect on that great brunch your friends hosted and how much you enjoyed seeing everyone. Look at the pictures you took on your camera and breathe in a taste of satisfaction for the quality time you got to spend with your family,” Su wrote. “Feel gratitude for the days off you got especially in the context where many do not have work or the means to celebrate as you did.”

Reevaluate your routines

Now is also a great time to assess your morning rituals, Bray said.

“What do I want to pick up, and what’s no longer serving me?” she posed. “Are you needing more affirmation? Are you needing to slow down more in the morning?” See what needs adjusting, then commit to what will allow you to have the best start each day.

Your evening routine might need tweaking, too, said Reddick-Pollard. Hone in on how you can be better prepared.

“The best morning routines,” said Reddick-Pollard, “start the night before.”

Get a new planner

Both readers and experts said that a new planner can be key. Reddick-Pollard, who created a weekly self-care planner, prefers the paper ones.

“It’s really important to write things down,” she said. “The brain processes content differently if you write it down versus if you type it.”

However, digital planners can also get the job done. “Whatever your method is, make sure you have a system to track your goals,” she advised. “Track what you’ve accomplished from week to week and month to month.”

Don’t base your success on social media

While perusing social media, you might be inclined to compare your own accomplishments to what you’re seeing on your timeline. But social media posts, Bray observed, are too curated to be a fair way to measure that.

“Your ability to take care of yourself is one of the greatest marks of success in my eyes,” Bray said. “Create benchmarks along those lines instead of comparing yourself to other people.”

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