sun-flower.jpgMy eight-year-old son was really bummed out on Sunday because school was starting this week and he couldn’t accept summer was almost over. And, he’s really not big on school.

“Can’t you home school me?” he asked. “If I home school you,” I retorted, “you’ll end up a ditch digger.”

Not really understanding what that meant, he went off to play with his sister.

I get kids being sad about summer ending, but this week I’ve gotten a flurry of emails and text messages from friends and colleagues about how they’re in a funk because summer is coming to an end. Many haven’t gotten their fill of fun and sun, and more than a few didn’t have the time or resources to take a real vacation.

I don’t blame people for feeling the end of summer blues. I always get a bit sad around this time of year too. And things seem even more gloomy right now because of the struggling economy. Usually the fall was a time when employers ramped up hiring, but this year, most economists predict a continuation of a crummy job market.

Just today, the Conference Board reported online ads for jobs dropped 57,100 in August, after rising nearly 140,000 in the previous month.

“There’s a lot of negativity out there right now,” says Dr. Robert Puff, a clinical psychologist and the author of “Anger Work: How To Express Your Anger and Still Be Kind.”

So, what to do?

Employees are overworked and in need of camaraderie, adds Ronald Humphrey, professor of management at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of “Affect and Emotion: New Directions in Management Theory and Research.”

They are overworked because many businesses have cut back on staffing and handed more projects to those left behind, Humphrey explains.

And, he adds, office or factory friendships with co-workers are suffering because companies are constantly reorganizing teams, and opportunities to socialize and have fun are becoming few and far between.

This might be making you even more bummed out so I need to get to the bounce-back tips now:

*Throw a party. “I would suggest that offices have post-vacation office parties that allow people to show photos from their vacations and talk about their vacations, and thus bring some of their vacation spirit back to work with them,” advises Virginia Commonwealth’s Humphrey. “For example, if some of the people went at beach locations, they could have beach parties, with beach blankets, etc. More importantly, if companies use good motivational principles throughout the year, then employees shouldn’t feel too blue about coming back to work.”

*Step away from the e-mail. You know your e-mail inbox is going to be overflowing if you did manage to take time off, so take time before you jump in, recommends workplace communications trainer Laurent Duperval. “Most people receive too much e-mail every day, and if the first thing you see upon your return is that you have 328 e-mails waiting, that’s a good recipe for the blues,” he says.

*Pamper yourself. “Schedule a meal at a fabulous restaurant for when you return. Ditto for a spa, concert or whatever else turns you on,” says Adrian Miller, a sales training expert.

Or just go on a picnic with family or friends. You know you have that expensive picnic basket you bought years ago but never use. The weather will still be great for weeks.

*Get moving. This is a great time for renewal. If you’ve faced a brutal job search with few results, decide to rethink your whole strategy, from your resume to your networking strategies.

Also, if you took time off and are having trouble getting back into the groove, get a jump on work. “Some people find it helpful to go into the office early on their first day back, or even on the night before their first day back, in order to clear out their inbox,” says Joseph Weiner, chief of consultation psychiatry at North Shore University Hospital.

*Bring a bit of sand to the office. Photos of your vacation or souvenirs are a great way to relive the fun you had. “Good feelings aren’t over because vacation has ended. You can conjure up a good memory anytime you like,” notes Debbie Mandel, author of “Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7-Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life.”

It’s all about not letting the negativity play you like a puppet, says Puff, the psychologist. “If you’re aware of the negativity, you can go against it and make your job more enjoyable,” he maintains.

Happy Labor Day! Or I should say, find ways to stay happy on the day after Labor Day!

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