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The holidays, like the saved for since childhood vacation or the once in a lifetime visit to a restaurant with that one meal that beats all meals ever consumed in history, must at some point come to an end. Then the letdown, or the blues or the blahs set in. The little piece of owl wrapping paper hurriedly left on the corner of your desk stares at you, evoking memories of gift exchanges and the excited sharing of upcoming plans and the anticipation of fun.

Now, work looks stark in contrast. Those colorful post it notes have a utilitarian feel and the decorations that need to come down are just one more job along with the shoveling of emails and the cleaning out of the gutter of voice mails. Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Or maybe you’ve had to work over the holidays, overseeing volunteer involvement in events or client interactions or special projects. Then your holidays feel stolen somehow, because at the time, it was festive to know you were helping others, but now it just seems all too short.

So, I’ll make this quick and not add to your stress. You have better things to do with your time like sneak into a bathroom stall and weep a bit. And, since I am no therapist and usually don’t know what the hell I’m talking about anyway, here is my advice for this week’s return to work:

1. Don’t feel guilty about feeling blah: No, nope, nada, nyet, iie, non, kao, nej. Your feelings are real and justified.

2. Plan for your next getaway: Yep, put something on your calendar to look forward to, especially if you need it right now. Next week, you probably won’t need it so much, but right now, it is the light at the end of this back to work tunnel.

3. Take it super slow: Only do what is absolutely critical to not lose your job. Other than that, allow the me comfort to continue all day, mainly to avoid telling the marketing director to ##!@ off because you weren’t ready to be asked for six volunteers to get those New Year’s flyers distributed asap.

4. Make your work about your choice: “I choose to do..” rather than “I have to do..” will help shift that out of control feeling.

5. Reflect on joy: What made you happy during the holidays? Studies show that the act of remembering joy can reawaken the joy. Go ahead and let that happiness wash over you again.

We can’t inspire others if we are not healthy and whole. Please don’t ever think that your well being is not crucially important to this work. It is. Take good care of yourselves, because you are more important to furthering your mission than you will ever admit.

Happy and Joy Filled New Year!