Experts expect an increase in stress-related sick leave starting in September. Tips to face the return to work

  • Extreme post-holiday syndrome: circumstances make the return to work in September harder than usual. Top Doctos experts estimate that sick leave due to stress and anxiety will increase from September onwards.
  • Psychological consultations for work-related issues have increased by 20% since March.
  • Experts give 6 tips to better cope with the return to routine

Barcelona, August 31, 2020.- With the arrival of September, the reactivation of the family and professional routine begins, this year framed in a context of uncertainty derived from the current economic and health situation. Job instability, new forms of remote work that force people to reconcile work and personal life, as well as the on-site rentrée with the new COVID prevention rules, increase stress and anxiety about the return to routine. In fact, experts expect an increase in the number of people suffering from the well-known “post-holiday syndrome”, as well as a worsening of its effects. “Insomnia, continuous tiredness, headaches, general malaise, irritability or fear are some of the symptoms that we detect among those suffering from post-holiday syndrome, which this year will be aggravated given the situation. In fact, we expect an increase in sick leave due to anxiety and stress symptoms from September onwards”, explains Lina Romillo, health psychologist and member of Top Doctors.

Likewise, the data offered by the experts of the Top Doctors platform, show how the number of psychological consultations for labor issues has increased by 20% since March, being these more frequent in the case of women, especially working mothers who have had to reconcile family and work life during confinement. “In consultation we see an increase in the levels of stress and psychological discomfort due to job uncertainty, both among healthcare workers, those who telework, and those who have lost their jobs or could lose them. Many people, especially younger people, see their future even more bleak than they did before the pandemic. For all these reasons, many people have felt fear at some point, which has led them to seek expert help,” explains Romillo.

Headaches and muscle aches, tiredness and insomnia, variations in weight, some of the symptoms of “post-holiday depression”.

At the end of the holiday period and back to work and daily routine many people experience certain sensations at a physical and psychological level during the period of adaptation to the change. The most common are lack of motivation and concentration, tiredness and fatigue, lack of appetite or nervousness. “The symptoms of post-holiday depression can be confused with those of depression, but the difference lies in the trigger and the durability of these symptoms, no more than 15 days. This year it will be aggravated by a higher level of stress due to the fear of contagion, job uncertainty or whether schools will open or for how long, among others,” explains Irene Giménez, a specialist in Psychology and member of Top Doctors.

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On other occasions, this discomfort may be reflected in physical pain, which is mainly due to stress. Headaches or migraines, muscular pains, ophthalmological problems, weight variations and digestive problems, as well as sleep problems are some of the most common.

Six tips to better cope with the return to routine

The experts at Top Doctors foresee a tougher post-vacation period than usual. For this reason, Elena De Iracheta Ruiz, clinical psychologist at the Women’s Unit of the Ruber Internacional Hospital and member of Top Doctors, gives a series of tips to better cope with the return to routine in the new normal.

  1. The return should be seen as something positive, since it means going back to living as before the pandemic began. Likewise, bad psychological reactions to change or possible changes prevent us from seeing the opportunities offered by new challenges or new ways of facing reality both personally and professionally.
  2. Healthy eating and daily physical exercise are the best way to combat stress. It is also important to hydrate daily, make time for our hobbies, talk or have contact with family and friends, without losing sight of the COVID-19 preventive measures.
  3. Do not let the stress level rise to such high levels that pharmacological treatment is required. If after 15 days the symptoms of post-holiday depression do not subside, it is necessary to consult an expert.
  4. Resume activity little by little and take breaks in the day every two hours to stretch your legs or chat with colleagues.
  5. Taking a break from technology for periods of time will help the mind to be clearer.
  6. Follow all preventive measures against coronavirus: frequent hand washing, disinfection of surfaces in the workplace (telephones, computers, mouse, tables), keeping a safe distance from colleagues and the constant use of masks.

Experts who have collaborated:

  • Irene Giménez, specialist in Psychology at the Institut Dr. Natalia Ribé and member of Top Doctors.
  • Mrs. Lina Romillo, specialist in health psychology and director of her own private psychology practice in Bilbao and member of Top Doctors.
  • Ms. Elena de Iracheta Ruiz, clinical psychologist at the Women’s Unit of the Ruber Internacional Hospital and member of Top Doctors