5 Ways to Come Back Strong from the Holidays

With tough times looming, experts say executives take steps now and during their holiday break to hit the ground running in 2023.

It’s an all-too-common feeling—returning to your office in January feeling totally drained after a whirlwind of holiday parties, fraught family gatherings, and tiresome travel across time zones.

And yet, with recession fears looming, most firms will likely be pushing hard the moment the holiday break ends. And in some cases, further layoffs seem imminent, with the Fed projecting unemployment to rise from 3.7% to 4.4% in 2023. The harsh economic weather is a damper for professionals who had hoped for a carefree stint away from work. “Executives are under a great deal of stress, so they need to relax but also keep their eye on the ball,” says Val Olson, a career and leadership coach at Korn Ferry Advance.

Experts say it will take some doing to be ready—and it starts now and during the time off. Here are a few thoughts:

Commit to moderation.

Moderation balances enjoyment with a dose of wisdom, says Olson. Over the next few weeks, taking the middle road can help you avoid both a literal and a metaphorical headache in the near future. “If you overdo eating, drinking, or being on the go over the holiday season, it could take the whole first quarter of 2023 to get back on track,” she says. Overexercising can be an issue too—too many crazy-long hikes or hitting the weights too hard—particularly if you come back injured.

Check in on work occasionally

Returning from a blissful holiday to a backlog of 700 emails can lead to a lot of anxiety and stress. So while rest is key to a healthy vacation, “don’t go radio silent on work,” says Brian Bloom, vice president of global benefits and mobility operations in Korn Ferry's human resource department. Particularly given the possibility of a recession, checking in on work now and then could be the difference between keeping and losing a job. And experts say hitting the ground running can increase your start-of-year impact.

Reflect on the past and act accordingly.

It’s important to look back at the corporate values your firm demonstrated this past year and determine where they did or didn’t align with your personal values. This exercise can help you discover what really matters to you as a leader. Make a list, then plan some things you can do (or ways you can be) to honor the values you want to bring to your company going forward. If, for example, taking a more holistic approach to colleagues and connecting with them outside of work is important to you, think of different ways you might like to do this during the holidays, and with whom. Similarly, being generous could be a value you act on over the next few weeks. “If you do this,” Olson says, “you can return to work with a greater sense of fulfillment—versus feeling depleted or dissatisfied.”

Create a vision board.

Establish a vision for what you would like to accomplish over the next year. Create a vision board featuring magazine or digital images that generate emotional energy towards achieving that vision. Images are key because we relate to pictures more than words, says Olson. She adds that it’s important for your vision to be “grand” and emotionally resonant—a boring vision won’t generate the energy necessary to succeed. “Vision is a description of your ideal future,” Olson explains. “Goals are concrete steps toward materializing that future.”

Schedule medical checkups.

Health is the real wealth, as the saying goes. But amid a hectic schedule, you may neglect to schedule potentially lifesaving medical checkups. “Maybe you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol—you don’t know unless you go to the doctor and have that conversation,” advises Bloom. On a sobering note, Bloom warns that booking a health screening could be the difference between detecting stage one cancer versus stage three or four, “when it may be too late.”