Feeling stressed or run-down after the holidays? Dr. Doni Wilson gives some simple tips to recover from holiday burnout—and start the year off right.
As we ring in the New Year, many of us are worn out and sleep-deprived after rushing around to get ready for the holidays, and may even feel a few pounds heavier from enjoying holiday treats and parties. Subsequently, you might be experiencing signs of “burnout” (like fatigue, aches and pains, headaches, bloating, easily catching colds, and generally feeling irritable) that impact your ability to get through the day.1-5 These “post-holiday blues” are what inspire thousands of people to set a New Year’s Resolution. And yet, you might be feeling too burned out to even think of getting motivated for a New Year’s Resolution. Plus, research indicates that worrying about burnout only adds to the issues.6
So we need to keep this simple, because putting your health first can make a difference in your health now and into the future. By using simple and high-impact natural stress remedies to create daily habits to help manage your stress and wellness without worrying about it too much, you can recover from burnout and prevent it from occurring again.
Here are five tips for recovering from holiday burnout, losing a few unwanted pounds, and getting yourself on track to achieve optimal wellness:
Holiday Burnout Tips
Tip 1 – Eat five small “half-meals” each day
A key aspect of minimizing the stress on your system is to eat in a way that fits your physiology. The least stressful and most supportive way to nourish yourself is to eat five small “half-meals” each day. Spread these evenly throughout the day, with each small “meal” including a balance of:
- Proteins (35%-40%),
- Carbs (35%-40% or less), and
- Healthy fats (20%-30% or more).
The key is to eat half as much as you usually would at a given meal, essentially eating until you are not hungry (instead of eating until you are full). This is based on research that suggests that calorie and carbohydrate restriction, along with higher protein and fat, improves wellness.7-13
An example day might be:
- 7 AM: 1 scoop pea protein shake with berries and 1 Tb coconut oil,
- 10 AM: 1/4 cup almonds/cashews with a few dried cranberries,
- 1 PM: half of a salad with olive oil, veggies and 3 oz chicken/turkey,
- 4 PM: the other half of the salad,
- 7 PM: 3 ounces of wild salmon with sautéed kale or steamed broccoli.
Keep in mind that it is important to individualize your diet based on your preferences, needs, and health concerns.
Important: Notice that the examples I provided are gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free because that also helps your body recover from burn out.
Tip 2 – Drink Plenty of Filtered Water
To find the amount you need, divide your body weight in half. That’s how many ounces of water you need to drink throughout the day, even if you don’t “feel thirsty.” You’ll need even more if you have been drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, if you are engaged in vigorous physical activity, or if you are in a hot climate. Your thirst monitors don’t really reflect your body’s need for water, yet when your body becomes even slightly dehydrated, your stress response begins.14 I say “filtered” water in order to avoid toxins, metals, and other contaminates often found in water. It is also important to ensure adequate electrolytes (sodium, potassium, etc.) in your water and beverages—but avoid sweeteners. For optimal burnout recovery, while increasing your intake of water, decrease consumption of alcoholic beverages, caffeine (soda, coffee, tea), and sugar-filled beverages.
Tip 3 – Get 7.5 – 9 Hours of Refreshing Sleep Each Night
We all need sleep—and we need it even more if our waking hours have been full of stressful challenges. Even when we experience these challenges as positive—holiday shopping and events, spending time with family, a vacation full of thrilling adventures—our body needs time to relax and recover from the demands of the day. Aim to get into bed and turn off the lights and electronic devices with enough time to sleep at least 7.5 hours before you need to get up the next day. Unfortunately, it is often when we are most stressed that we don’t sleep as well. So if you are not getting good sleep, be sure to contact a health care provider who can help your body recover from stress so that you can get back to sleeping well.15-20
Tip 4 – Exercise at Least 15 Minutes a Day, Three to Five Days a Week
Your body was born to move, and when it doesn’t get that opportunity, you will find it very difficult to maintain optimal health. Of course, exercise itself is a form of stress—a physical challenge to your body— but paradoxically, it also helps to release emotional stress. A number of studies have shown that regular exercise is associated with decreased anxiety and depression, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But don’t overdo it! Even just 15 minutes of strength-building together with cardio helps your body recover from stress.21-24
Tip 5 – Reconnect with Yourself Through Yoga, Meditation, and Massage Therapy
A plethora of research demonstrates that stress plays a major role in depression and anxiety.25 This makes sense when you consider how significantly the stress hormone cortisol affects our neurotransmitters, the biochemical that determine mood, energy, and focus. Fortunately, the research also demonstrates that the stress response can be rebalanced through yoga, meditation, and massage therapy. 26-30 For your burn-out recovery, you may want to download a meditation app on your phone or iPad to help guide and inspire you. You could look for a local yoga class to join and perhaps make an appointment for a holiday-recovery massage. In just fifteen minutes a day, these activities will help prevent burnout from taking over.
For help integrating these tips into your life, you might want to sign up to receive a free 7-day email series I created called “Burnout Reset Support.”
These emails will be automatically delivered to your inbox and provide you with encouragement and information to keep you motivated and help you to recover from the holidays. What better feeling than to start off the year on the right foot—let me show you how!
5th January 2016
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