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Beating the back-to-work blues

Louise Skelton - 13/01/06

"Feeling a case of the back-to-work blues? You're not alone", according to Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive, Judi Clements.

"With more hectic Christmas and New Year schedules, people are often returning to work feeling like they have not had a chance to recharge their batteries," she says.

A study in Australia found that workers returning from their Christmas vacations are often more stressed and tired than before they took their break.

"This can result in less productive employees, and a greater risk of workplace accidents."

Many people also find the transition from holiday schedules to a work routine difficult. Working Well, the workplace mental health programme of the Mental Health Foundation, has the following suggestions to help with the transition back to work.

  • Have your next leave planned when you return to work. It is essential to take holidays to give you a chance to recharge - which ultimately will increase productivity.
  • Stick to those New Year resolutions such as getting more sleep, exercising and eating well. You can still build your energy levels up once you are back at work.
  • Make sure you take time out for yourself to do the things you enjoy such as gardening, reading, walking on the beach or listening to music. Plan some time with your family or friends, or organise sporting or social activities that you can look forward to in the evenings or at weekends.

Manager of Working Well, Judy Montgomery, says a healthy balance between work and the rest of our lives is crucial to both personal and organisational success, and is a significant contributor to building a mentally healthy workplace.

"Workplaces can contribute to a healthy balance by focusing on employee health through things such as subsidised gym memberships and having fresh fruit available. Family friendly initiatives such as flexible working structures and domestic leave provisions, along with community contributions such as involvement in local community fundraising projects, can all lead to a healthier workplace," she says.

Working Well has recently updated its toolkit, a practical guide to building mentally healthy workplaces, to include sections on stress, diversity on workplaces and problem gambling. For more information, see, email or call 0800 4WORKING (0800 496 754).

Louise Skelton is Communications Officer at the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

Working to improve the mental health of all people and communities in New Zealand

'Out of the Blue' Kia Marama is the Foundation's depression awareness campaign.

The Mental Health Foundation relies on donations to continue its work to improve the mental health of all people and communities in Aotearoa New Zealand. Readers can make a donation by visiting


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