You’ve had a couple of weeks off. You’ve enjoyed a wonderful holiday, you’ve had time to relax, play, laugh and spend quality time with your family or friends.

Your batteries are recharged BUT you’re increasingly aware that you only have a couple of days left until you’re back to work.

And every time you think about Monday morning you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and you feel your anxiety and stress levels ramp up.


Because you either know what’s waiting for you on your return, or you imagine what will be waiting for you, and you imagine the worst. Perhaps you’re worried about the mountain of emails, all those yet to be completed tasks, those crazy, unrealistic deadlines or those important meetings which are scheduled for your return.

What can you do to help make your initial return to work that little bit easier?

One solution is to shift your mind-set.

Here a couple of ways to do that:

Adopt a challenge mind-set before your first day back

When faced with any situation such as going back to work after a holiday, there are two broad mind-sets you can adopt, threat or challenge.

A threat mind-set focuses your mind on the possible downsides of the situation — being overwhelmed by your tasks — while a challenge mind-set turns your attention to the upsides – doing a good job, impressing your boss.

So when you’re thinking about your first day back at work, instead of focusing on the negative (e.g. your full inbox or deadlines), think about those elements within your role which you enjoy. Whether it is working on a particular project, spending time with a colleague, or even visiting your favourite coffee shop during your lunch hour.

I recommend you spend the weekend before your return to work focusing your mind on the things you’re looking forward to about returning to work.

Reframe your anxiety as excitement

A 2014 study showed how it’s possible to harness anxiety and turn it into that most positive and energizing of emotions, excitement.

Alison Brooks of the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study which put volunteers into various nerve-racking situations including: singing karaoke in front of strangers; public speaking; doing ‘IQ-test’ arithmetic problems under time pressure. But before each activity, they spoke out loud a single sentence to themselves: “I feel anxious,” “I feel calm,” or “I feel excited.”

All the participants wore heart-rate monitors and, in order to make them aware of their bodily symptoms, how fast their hearts were beating was displayed prominently to them during the experiment.

Brooks discovered that saying “I am excited” made people adopt a challenge rather than a threat mind-set. Those who declared themselves excited were more likely to see even singing for an audience as an opportunity for success rather than failure. This is because a challenge maps onto our approach system, and a threat onto our avoidance system.

Saying “I am excited” in the face of nervous arousal switches your brain into approach mode by creating a challenge or opportunity mind-set. The approach mode then increases dopamine activity, which focuses your attention and sharpens you mentally.

The people who said “I am excited” felt more self-confident and also performed better, objectively measured, at all the tasks — singing, public speaking, even arithmetic. The opposite was true for those who said “I feel anxious.”

The results of this study were published in one of the most respected experimental psychology publications, the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

I personally engage in this simple but very effective mind-set shift before every client session and before every improvisation class I attend or show I perform in. It takes just seconds but the benefits can be massive.

What Next?

Although these two mind-set shifts steps offer quick solutions to ensuring your return to work is more bearable in the short-term, they are unlikely to solve the bigger issues which may be at the core of your feelings of anxiety. As a resilience coach it’s my job to help people create long term solutions for their anxiety and stress. The reality is you don’t have to live with anxiety and stress. With the right knowledge, techniques, practice and patience you can master your anxiety and stress.

To explore how I can help you master your anxiety and stress contact me today for a free, no obligation online or phone consultation – , call/text 021 056 8389.

Go well


PS. I’m running a workshop in early February – Say ‘Goodbye’ to your Anxiety & Stress – at which I’ll be sharing many of the anxiety mastery techniques that have proved so effective for my anxiety and stress clients. To learn more about the workshop click here.

REMEMBER – “When you change your mind you change your life.”

Tony helps people of all ages say ‘goodbye’ to anxiety, stress, depression and trauma in the shortest time possible. His practical, evidence based solution focused approach is designed to enable you to thrive and start fully enjoying life again in the shortest time possible.