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Beat the back to work blues

By Gemma Raw

We can all get that 'Monday morning feeling'. And if you're a healthcare worker on a shift pattern, it could be an issue on any day, not just Monday. So, how do you make sure you start your working week with a spring in your step?

Whether you're a doctor, nurse or allied health professional, facing the rigors of a new working week can be a daunting prospect. We all know that healthcare jobs can be stressful and challenging at the best of times. But when you've had a calming couple of days off, it's often difficult to get back into the swing of things and perform at your best right away.

The 'Monday Blues' is no urban myth. It's a phenomenon that's recognised by psychologists, involving a set of negative emotions often felt by people returning to work after the weekend. It doesn't matter if your 'weekend' isn't on a Saturday and Sunday and your first day back at work isn't a Monday. You can still find yourself in a similar downbeat state of mind.

Here are a few ideas to help turn your 'Monday Blues' into more of a 'Friday Feeling'!

Sleep better

It's not just about getting your eight hours the night before work. If you change your sleeping pattern on your days off, for example going to bed later and lying in, it can result in what sleep researchers call 'social jetlag'. That can mean waking up for work with brain fog.

Get some natural light

This is easier said than done if you're a nurse working night shifts. But if you are getting up for work in daylight, make sure you expose your eyes and skin to it as quickly as possible. It will tell your mind and body that it's time to be awake and alert. 

Eat breakfast

It's not called 'the most important meal' for nothing. A healthy, balanced breakfast can set you up for the day, helping with your concentration and energy levels. Your body needs nutrients and if you don't eat it's like trying to run your car without petrol.

Be organised

Good planning and organisation can help to banish that feeling of being overwhelmed by the pressures of work. Try not to leave yourself problems or challenges to face immediately when you return to work. Update your to-do list so you come back into a planned workflow. Of course, you may have to be reactive to situations which have changed while you were away, but at least you'll know where you are with any ongoing tasks and can prioritise more effectively. 

Do some positive thinking

Are you a 'glass half empty' sort of person? If you have a negative outlook, it can make you more prone to the Monday Blues. Positive thinking can help reduce stress and even improve your health. Try to focus on the good things about your job, whether it's caring for people as a nurse or improving their quality of life as a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

Finally, there's one simple thing you can do to brighten your day: smile. You may be surprised just how much better it can make you feel, not to mention the positive effect it will have on your co-workers and patients.