Do you push yourself so hard at the end of the year with deadlines, Christmas parties and family shopping that you crash out on Christmas day? Do you spend a large part of the holidays ‘catching up’ on recovery only to feel fully refreshed and recharged ready for the first day back at work?
This concept has never really made sense to me. Why do we work so hard and push ourselves so far throughout the year that we spend a large part of our holiday time feeling flat and fatigued?
Follow the tips below to make sure you don’t burnout before Christmas and to ensure you have the energy you need to make the most of the time you have with family, friends and loved ones:
1. Fill up on Fluids
And I don’t mean just alcohol! We tend to drink more alcohol during the festive season so we need to drink even more water than usual to ensure we stay hydrated. As a general rule try a water chaser after every alcoholic beverage.
The most common cause of daytime fatigue is mild dehydration. Even minor dehydration can make you feel fatigued, lose concentration or cause headache. Water helps the blood transport oxygen, and the level of oxygen in the bloodstream is greatest when the body is well hydrated. This leads to increased energy levels. If you are properly hydrated, your heart also doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body.
2. Pep Up with Protein
So many Christmas gifts contain candy canes, Belgian chocolates and cookies. While these do taste great, they are not the best foods for sustained energy release.
If you are feeling lethargic or peckish between meals try a protein snack instead. Meals that tend to make you more alert contain protein, are low in fat, and limit the amount of carbohydrate. Protein contains tyrosine which is converted into the alertness neurotransmitter, dopamine.
3. Move Baby Move
Don’t use all of those deadlines and hangovers as a reason to skip your regular exercise. And if you really do need to miss a session or two add strategic movement – get up off your backside and take a walk around the office every 90 minutes.
As soon as you begin to move a cascade of chemical and physiological equations occur that immediately boost energy. Building strategic movement into your day is a proven way to instantly increase energy levels, improve blood flow and deliver oxygen and glucose to the brain and muscles. It is vital to switch on your energy hormones and triggers the sympathetic nervous system that helps keep you alert and sharp.
4. Be Mindful
Everyone wants everything at the same time leading up to Christmas. It can be difficult not to be pulled into a million directions at once and it’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed. Try focusing on one thing at a time so you can stay in control and get more done.
When you’re calmly focused on a single task, your brainpower is multiplied. Whilst it may seem more productive to multi-task, in fact it dramatically reduces efficiency. Try removing yourself from distractions and work in forced isolation to solve problems and boost creativity.
5. Take a Breath
If you feel stressed it’s time to take a deep breath, literally. The way we breathe has a powerful effect on how stressed we feel.
One of the physiological changes that occurs with the stress response and the kicking in of the automatic nervous system is a switch from slow, abdominal breathing to faster, shallower, chest breathing. By consciously taking a few deep breaths we take in more oxygen and send a message to our brains that we are coping with the stressor and this helps to reduce a number of the emotional symptoms of stress.
6. Think Positively
How many times have you heard or said these statements in the last month, “I’m exhausted, I have more work than I can handle, why do I have to do everything?” Constant negative thinking decreases our ability to perform.
Our thinking patterns directly affect the body and how it functions. When you replace your negative thoughts with optimistic thoughts instead of resentment, anxiety and worry – you will start to feel an increased sense of wellbeing. This results in better quality sleep, improved productivity, reduced muscle tension, anxiety, and fatigue.
7. Look in the Rear View Mirror
Goal setting is a lot like driving a car. While you definitely need the majority of your focus out the front windscreen looking at the road ahead, every now and then you also need to take a look into the rear view mirror to see what’s behind you. Now is a great time to take stock of the achievements and wins you have accomplished in 2010.
It is easy to become obsessed with soaring faster, higher and stronger that we forget to celebrate our successes along the way.
I’d like you to grab a blank sheet of paper and complete the same activity. Write down all of your achievements over the previous year.
- What has worked well in your personal and professional life?
- What positives have you drawn out of your relationships?
- What wins have you had with your health and fitness?
- What have you learned this year?
- What have you enjoyed doing more of this year?
While there is loads of research highlighting the benefits of adopting an optimistic future, it is also essential to every now and then take a glance in the rear view mirror and remember where you’ve come from. Happy reflecting!