Combating The After Holiday Weekend Fatigue

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For my family, Labor Day weekend is just like any other weekend. Except it’s one day longer. So for us, it’s just an extra day of doing housework or yard-work or, as was the case this year, doing work at my family’s farm. Cutting and splitting trees that had been removed and also broken trees that were felled in the last storm was how we celebrated our Labor Day 2020.

But for many families, they celebrate with family get-togethers, dinners, and events. This can often lead to extreme fatigue in the following days. “After any big event — a vacation, a wedding or the holidays — there can be a lull after,” says New York-based clinical psychologist, Linda Smith.

So here are 5 tips on how to combat that fatigue:

Make a Fitness Plan

It’s time to get moving again — and shopping for presents for the upcoming BIG holidays don’t count. Consistency is key to making exercise a regular part of your lifestyle. Find a time of day where you are less distracted and use it to squeeze-in an enjoyable physical activity. It doesn’t have to be the gym. Then do it some more and begin to build a plan that supports your fitness goals.

A great way to work in some exercise, family time, outdoor time, and maintain a little bit of your sanity during this endless COVID lock-down is to add in an evening walk either before or after dinner with the whole family. Even if it’s just around the block, it’s still beneficial.

The last thing you may feel like doing when you’re tired is exercising. But many studies show that physical activity boosts energy levels. “People who become active have a greater sense of self-confidence. But exercise also improves the working efficiency of your heart, lungs, and muscles,” says Kerry J. Stewart, professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “That’s the equivalent of improving the fuel efficiency of a car. It gives you more energy for any kind of activity.”

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Find a Support Partner

You’re likely not the only one fighting post-holiday fatigue. Find a friend or family member facing the same challenge and lean on each other to get back on track. This can be a friend, family member, coworker, even a stranger in a Facebook group (don’t judge. Some of my best friends have started out as a stranger in a Facebook group!)

If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

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Organize Your Desk

Nothing can make you feel more overwhelmed than staring at a mountain of paperwork upon returning to the office. While it’s best to organize your desk before leaving for a holiday, take a couple of minutes upon returning to work to clear off your desk before settling in. Starting with a clean slate can help your mind focus on the tasks you have planned.

A disorganized, sloppy workspace detracts from your ability to focus and get tasks completed efficiently. This also leads to an increase in the fatigue you feel upon returning to work. Any time spent searching for something is wasted time. You should always be able to find what you want when you need it. An organized desk doesn’t have to be a dream.

Keeping priority in mind, divide your desk clutter into piles. The first pile should be your high priority items – things you need to deal with right away. The remaining piles can be grouped by task:

  • to read
  • to file
  • to scan
  • to shred, etc.

Once all your clutter is properly divided, the next step towards your goal of an organized desk is dealing with each pile. Deal with your high priority items first, doing whatever needs to be done to clear that pile. Next, deal with each of your other piles – one at a time.

An important tip: If something on your desk requires several steps to make it go away – it is actually a project. Do NOT tackle your projects in your designated organizing time. Instead, you can create a file folder for you project and set aside a time in the future to do that project. Don’t get sidetracked right now.

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Eat More Often

Some people may benefit by eating smaller meals more frequently during the day. This may help to steady your blood sugar level. Favor whole grains and other complex carbohydrates. These take longer than refined carbohydrates to digest, preventing fluctuations of blood sugar. If you start eating more often, watch your portion sizes to avoid weight gain.

Mini-meals can aid in satisfying the appetite, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and providing nutrients to the body throughout the day. Smaller, more frequent meals in your daily eating patterns also can aid in a more efficient metabolism compared to a slower metabolism when meals are skipped. An efficient metabolism allows your body to use carbohydrates, protein and fat to fuel your body.

Whether you’re on the go, or at home with your family, avoid skipping meals. Skipping meals will lead to a decreased energy levels, a drop in blood sugar and a slower metabolism.

Make it a habit to eat breakfast daily within one to two hours after you wake up, then eat again every three to four hours, for a total of five to six meals per day. These meals should be comprised of mini-meals to moderate-sized meals, snacks, and pre- and post-workout meals or snacks throughout the day. For some athletes, it’s easier to drink meal replacement shakes, protein shakes or smoothies to avoid feeling full from solid foods.

Overall, aim for meals and snacks that are high in carbohydrates and moderate in protein and fat. Before exercise, choose a carbohydrate-rich meal, but not too much protein since it takes longer to digest. After exercise, be sure to include a balance of carbohydrates and protein to refuel and recover.

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Before you get to the point where you feel like resting your head on your desk, recharge by adding some mindfulness to your work day and practice meditation right where you are. Taking a timeout to simply listen to your breath go in and out can re-energize you. 

If you find yourself feeling depleted of energy, take a five-minute break to inhale and exhale deeply or take a walk outdoors. Many studies have shown breathing in fresh outdoor air can help relax the nervous system and re-energize the brain, improving focus and creativity.

Check out this guided meditation from Mindful:

  1. Begin by bringing your attention to the sensations of your breath.
  2. When you’re ready, direct your attention to the soles of your feet, opening your mind to whatever sensations are there to be noticed.
  3. Perhaps you are noticing the pressure on the soles of your feet as the weight of your legs rests on them. Perhaps the soles of your feet feel warm or cool.
  4. Just notice. No need to judge or engage in discursive thinking. If your mind is pulled away or wanders, redirect your attention, firmly and gently.
  5. Move your attention next to the tops of your feet, ankles, lower legs, knees, and so forth.
  6. Gradually scan through your body, noticing sensations, noticing discomfort, and noticing areas of your body where you detect an absence of sensations. No need to search for sensations; just keep scanning through your body, taking your time and being open to what is here.

Do you have tips on how to recharge after a holiday weekend??? Share them in the comments below!!

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