Firstly, Congratulations! Whether you are returning after leave or a break, you are taking a positive first step in your future. Here are some tips to help you look after yourself when returning to the workplace.
Tip 1 – Be Realistic
Returning to work is likely to present its own set of challenges, so try to pre-empt these as much as possible. If you live with others, work out a schedule so everyone knows what is expected of them on the days that you are in work. Can someone else walk the dog, make a start on dinner or put a wash on? Don’t feel that you need to do everything on top of the day job and don’t be afraid to delegate.
Tip 2 – Return Midweek
If you’re working a traditional 5 day week, try to start your first day midweek. The shorter first week will make returning to work more manageable as you don’t have to face a 5 day stretch before the weekend straight away!
Tip 3 – Be Confident and own the gap
It’s so easy to tie up our self-worth with paid employment, but don’t discount the unpaid part of your life too. Working in the home, caring for relatives, bringing up children or studying are all valid contributions to society. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your experience doesn’t count because it wasn’t paid. Be confident in your own skills and abilities. You’re just as capable (if not more so) for the job than some of your colleagues!
Returning to the work can be a challenge, but don’t feel that you need to hide who you are. I can guarantee that you won’t be the only person returning to work after a break, so make sure that you’re not afraid to own the gap. Don’t hide the fact that you
have had other experiences outside of work. You’ll probably find most of your colleagues are really interested to learn more about you.
Tip 4 – Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Make your life much easier by asking lots of questions when you start. No one is expecting you to be able to do everything. Don’t feel that you need to. Make sure you write down what you are learning so you can refer back to it later. What makes no sense at the beginning might make perfect sense later when you read back through your notes!
Tip 5 – Dress to impress
Even if your return to work involves working remotely, make sure that you show up for work smartly dressed. Putting on different clothes that you would normally wear sends a clear message that you mean business! It can also help to anchor your work day from your home life as you can literally take your jacket off when the working day ends.
Tip 6 – Set boundaries
It can be tempting when returning to work to throw yourself in at the deep end, but it’s important to set clear boundaries. Being constantly connected to work through your laptop or mobile can be a blessing and a curse. Setting clear boundaries will help you relax more when at home and create a routine that you can stick to.
Tip 7– Build in a Reward
Make sure you have something to look forward to at the end of the week. This could be a nice coffee, a lie-in, a bubble bath or a long walk. Make sure that you write down your reward at the beginning of the week – so you know what you are aiming towards. It’s a good idea to schedule in a time for the reward too so it doesn’t get overlooked. The reward doesn’t have to cost money, sometimes the best things in life are free!
Embrace this exciting stage in your life. You may have a lot to learn, but also you have a lot to give to a new employer too. Never forget that you are bringing a unique set of skills and experiences with you. Overall all, be kind to yourself. Like anything new, some things take time to settle down. Before you know it, hopefully you’ll be sharing this advice to the next new starter!