10/03/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

10 Tips To Beating The Back-To-Work Blues

When colleagues ask, "Did you have a good holiday?" you may feel like smashing the watercooler over their heads. There are two likely reasons. The first is that you had a really good break and the contrast with work creates a dreadful sense of being trapped or empty. You have returned from a few weeks away feeling as alive as you were in childhood or as a student; you have recovered the sense that Being is itself enough. Hardly surprising that returning to work is a shock.

The second reason might be that the holiday did not live up to expectations. You forked out a fortune to schlep through airports halfway across the planet, yet it was worse than your normal life, a terrible disappointment. In this scenario, your identity is so vested in work that you struggle without e-mail, phone calls and meetings that tell you who you are and what you are for. What's more, as Alain De Botton points out in The Art of Travel, you have brought yourself and your relationships with you.

Whichever of the two causes of post-hols blues, the way to keep a healthy state of mind is simple: realise how lucky you are to have the job, home and relationships that you do. At least you are not one of the starving, desperate people only a stone's throw from your Third World holiday corral. Shift from meeting bogus wants, generated in you by politicians, advertisers, teachers and parents. In their place insert real needs, such as a sense of security and intimacy, and feeling effective and authentic.

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