Shona Hirons, Global Corporate Burnout Expert & Director, Mindset in Motion Ltd

Shona Hirons is an award-winning global Resilience and Burnout Coach. A breakdown from work-related stress, which led to a life-changing accident, requiring major facial reconstructive surgery and brain damage, gave her a big wake-up call. During her recovery, she went on a journey of self-discovery to rebuild her resilience, consider her values, and achieve all the things she was told she couldn’t do. Shona has developed strategies to boost her resilience, and now helps others to do the same. She is the CEO of Mindset in Motion, and a leader in corporate wellbeing, working with corporate clients in over 55 countries. Her mission: To improve the well-being of people and businesses throughout the world.


You’ve had a couple of weeks off. This probably means you’re out of your normal routine.

If you’re dreading that first week or two back in the office, give these 5 top tips a try and see how quickly it makes a difference to how you feel.

1. Own Your Morning – This is particularly important if you work from home. Even if it’s cloudy outside, the best way to start your day is to get outside into natural daylight. Treat this as your ‘fake commute’. It also gets you into the mindset of leaving the house to come back to the office. Science journalist, Linda Geddes speaks a lot about the importance of having natural light in your workspace, and getting out for a walk in the day. Just a 20–30-minute walk in the morning can help your body to wake up, raise your energy and help you to be more creative.

2. Cut down the To-do list – If you’re heading into your first week back with a to-list as long as your shopping list, you are likely to end up running around with your hair on fire, which will have a negative impact on your mood and performance. It is also likely to impact your sleep.

Instead, think of it as an ‘Achievement List’ and focus on the tasks that absolutely must-be done, what could be delegated, and what could wait? My top tip is to include 5 must-do work related tasks and 5 must-do tasks for yourself and schedule them into your calendar. You can add in more if you achieve the first lot.

If you ever have those days where you feel like you haven’t stopped, but can’t think of what you’ve actually achieved, by calling your to-do list an Achievement List, you are more likely to appreciate all the work you’ve completed.

3. Take your breaks – I bang on about this all the time, but Scientific data, provided by Microsoft proves that taking just short breaks between meetings can have a huge benefit to how you focus, how productive you are and how this affects your mood. You may not think you have time to take a break, because you’re so ‘busy’, but not taking breaks will slow you down, so if you’re going to change one thing about the way you work this year, slow down in order to speed up. When you take these short breaks, make sure they are breaks away from the work that you were doing.

For example, if you have been staring at a computer screen for hours, come away and do something else, preferably that involves moving and having some fun. Whilst boiling the kettle, you could set your timer for 3 minutes and do a total body workout. Do 12 wall presses, 12 squats and 12 crunches, and repeat. On the next break, you could add in 3 different exercises. Believe me, your heart rate will go up and you will feel so much more energised going back into your work.

4. Set yourself healthy boundaries – One of the most damaging things we can do to ourselves is to have unhealthy boundaries. If you’re a people pleaser, you’re most likely to be a ‘yes’ person, but if you take on too much, this is likely to be to your detriment and ends up doing you no favours in the long run. Learn how to say ‘no’ to things that don’t align with your values. If you do want to help, but don’t have the capacity right now, make this clear and find a solution to prioritise what is most important.  You will feel much lighter for it.

Be clear on your start and finish times for work each day. If you’re always wishing there were more than 24 hours in a day, or working into your social time, be strict with these boundaries and regain that work/life balance. You won’t get to your last day on earth and wish you’d worked more hours.

5. Baby steps – Don’t try and do everything all at once. If you set yourself goals or resolutions for January, such as starting a new diet, doing Veganuary, Dry January, joining the gym, or restricting the time you spend on your phone, the likelihood is that you’ll give up within a matter of weeks.

Start with just a couple of changes that you can change now. Develop the habit and then start to introduce new ones. Soon, they will become part of your lifestyle.

If you struggle to do this yourself, invest in a good Coach who can give you that kick up the backside, motivate you and hold you accountable.

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