If you're heading back to work, here's a checklist for this weekend
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If you're heading back to work, here's a checklist for this weekend

It doesn't matter whether you've been away for five weeks or five days, the weekend before you go back to work is always bittersweet.

But, as hundreds of thousands of workers prepare to return on Monday, how can you use this weekend to give yourself the best possible start to 2019? (A year which, it should be said, has not started yet because, as a number of peer-reviewed studies have shown, the year does not start until you've stopped sleeping in and eating shortbread for breakfast.)

We asked the experts.

Do these things while you still have the time.

Do these things while you still have the time.Credit:Stocksy

Schedule time for fitness

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If you promised yourself you would join a gym or train for your first marathon in the endless possibilities (and blank calendar pages) of the new year, returning to work can be a reality check.

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But personal trainer and former Bachelor star Sam Wood says going back to the schedule of the working week can assist in developing a consistent fitness routine.

"Find your exercise time," he advises. "Whether you train before work, in your lunch break or after work doesn’t matter. Find what works for you and put it in your calendar as an appointment you cannot break."

Ben Lucas, director of Sydney's Flow Athletic studio, says this is the perfect time to start a new fitness regime.

"When it comes to exercise, find something that you genuinely enjoy whether that be doing gym classes, swimming [or] cycling," he says. "I’d also recommend finding an exercise partner if possible so you can both hype and account for each other."

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It is also a good time to think about your habits at work, and whether they detracting from your health goals.

"[A] great way to stimulate the mind if you feel foggy at work or to beat an energy down spiral (or 3pm slump) is to go for a quick walk around the block," says Lucas. "Or, instead of sitting on social media for the remaining 20 minutes of your lunch break, get some extra steps in ... Of course work gets busy and we have deadlines, but try and schedule to do this a least two to three times a week."

Don't make healthy eating hard 

If you want to eat well next week, don't rely on yourself to cook a nutritious meal each night, says accredited practising dietitian Robbie Clark.

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"You can almost predict and assume that the first week is the hardest," Clark says. "Catching up on emails, frequent meetings and planning sessions means that your focus will be taken away from your food and nutrition, unless you have planned successfully in advance."

Spend this weekend planning your meals for the week. Having a week's worth of lunches in the fridge ready to go can also be a big help.

"This will reduce your risk of making poor food choices with takeaway options at lunch."

Water intake is something which can often take a hit when working 9 to 5, but it is incredibly important at this time of year.

"If you feel like you gave the silly season a bit of a nudge, it’s important to maximise your water intake during the day," says Clark. "This helps with flushing toxins from the body and assisting the liver and kidneys to do their natural job of detoxification."

It's important to keep up your fluid intake when you return to work.

It's important to keep up your fluid intake when you return to work.Credit:Shutterstock

He recommends starting the year by investing in a durable glass or BPA-free water bottle.

"You can keep this on your desk at work within arm’s reach and refill it as often as you please."

Take inspiration from Victoria Beckham and pick your favourite outfit to wear on your first day back to work.

Take inspiration from Victoria Beckham and pick your favourite outfit to wear on your first day back to work.Credit:James Devaney

Get your workwear in order

The start of the year is a great time to "refresh" your corporate wardrobe, says Melbourne personal stylist Sally Mackinnon.

"Ensure everything is clean and laundered, including shoes," she says. "[And] get rid of any items that you haven’t worn for over five years, or that you don’t love or feel good in."

If you're dreading Monday morning, Mackinnon recommends setting aside your favourite outfit to wear on your first day back, or – if your laundry schedule allows – putting aside a nice outfit for each day of the rest of the week. You can even take advantage of sales season to find one new item to take you into 2019. "It's always nice to go back to work with something new, so treat yourself to a new shirt, jacket, a statement accessory, or a new pair of shoes," she says.

Know what you want from this year

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Success coach and author of Read Me First, Lisa Stephenson, says the start of a new work year is a time when people tend to ask themselves a lot of questions.

"Mostly people are concerned with, 'Will this year be the same as last year?'"

But, rather than falling into the trap of just telling yourself that things will be different (by doing things like asserting that 2019 will be "your year") there are some more productive questions you can be ask, particularly if you want something to change (be that your role, salary or even just your wellbeing in the office).

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Stephenson tells her clients to think about three things before a new work year: what you should stop doing ("the things that hurt or sabotage you"), what you should start doing ("the ideas you have, things you want to try which you think might be a success for you") and what you should continue to do ("the things you know work, make you happy and healthy, and which you should be doing more of").

But, at the end of the day, Stephenson says you'll only have a hope of achieving what you plan to on day one of 2019 if you really want it.

"When the New Year motivation has passed in March, what are you actually committed to this year? Because when you know what you're actually committed to – in your life, in your health, in your career, in your relationship – that will be what actually makes change."

Mary Ward is Deputy Lifestyle Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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