Most of the things we do in our lives, up to 40%, said psychologist William James, are based on habits,” says Manuel Armayones, psychologist and director of development at the eHealth Center, digital health center at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). We have a routine throughout the year that sometimes tires us, burns us, but allows us to go in “automatic mode”. When summer comes, also at the beginning, in some people difficulties in adapting to new habits appear, even if they are positive. Then when we start to get used to it, “it goes and it’s over.” In reality what happens is that we have adapted to a routine and we have to break with it to return to the previous one.
When can it be a problem? “There are extreme cases in which anxiety attacks, depression, headache or general discomfort are experienced. They affect a minority and can last for months, “says the study. “In some cases, only in some, you have to see if there is something else behind it . Sometimes, we have to think if what we do is what we really like and if not, establish a realistic plan for change, ”points out Armayones in this sense.
These crises are necessary because they awaken us a little from “automatic mode.” They must be used as opportunities to generate change and used to reflect: “Why is it taking so long for me to return?” “What is really behind it?” Says the psychologist. And from there, we should try to make things happen. Many people make New Year’s resolutions and many people can make them in September or August, if they have taken the holidays in July. The philosophy would be: “take advantage of that moment to see it as an opportunity .”
Tips for adjusting to routines
- Connect a few days before. An interesting option, according to Armayones, is to reconnect gradually during the last days of the holidays. Moving forward and planning a little bit back to the routine makes it easier to eliminate uncertainty and have a sense of control that will allow you to carry day by day better.
- Go little by little. Going from zero to one hundred is not good at all. Let’s go little by little: “Now that I start, I’m going to get through the first three days, which are somewhat heavy and unproductive.” In this case, he proposes to function without thinking that we have to start working and that everything becomes a mountain for us.
- Value the positive part. Can going back to work have a positive side? Of course yes. Having a positive attitude helps significantly. Returning to work is a great opportunity to meet up with colleagues with whom we get along, think of new projects and develop our professional facet. If our attitude is positive, going back to work will be much easier.
- Create new healthy habits. “We have broken with the routine of the summer, which, sometimes, is not as healthy as we think because we stay up late more, eat worse, give ourselves more licenses, and many people come with three or four kilos more. Well, let’s take advantage of some small challenges. No need to join the gym, but let’s incorporate small challenges into our day to day, “recommends the expert. In his words, the secret is to identify a healthy habit (for example, climbing a flight of stairs), a suitable context in which to develop it (always the same) and reward ourselves for it (self-congratulating ourselves).
This philosophy is based on the “tiny habits” method, by the researcher and professor at Stanford University BJ Fogg: “a habit is nothing more than a behavior that we repeat a lot in the same context and end up automating”. Returning from vacation is a good opportunity to restart our bad habits and change them for healthier ones.
- Plan leisure. «We are very black and white. We finished our holidays and suddenly it seems that we are getting into a kind of tunnel in which there are no weekends, holidays or free afternoons, “completes the expert. For this, a good option is to plan a little leisureso as not to fall into the whirlpool of the office and phone calls from one day to the next. In his words, this is the best way to avoid feeling that everything is work in our lives.
- Start exciting life projects. Returning from vacation is a good time to think about whether you want to volunteer or start a cultural activity, for example. Returning to the routine is easier if we fill it with the good times that cultural, educational and altruistic activities can provide us.
- Take advantage of routines. Routine is a concatenation of habits and habits are nothing more than behaviors that by force of repeating them we end up automating without thinking. But for these habits to be established, it is necessary to practice and often find space in our day to day. “If the new routines we can establish when we return from vacation are positive, we may even end up glad that the holidays are over. It depends on us! ”Concludes the director of development of the UOC eHealth Center.