Updated: Jan 15
Over the holidays we get out of our usual routines, and it may take some time to recuperate and get back into your usual routine. Many of us have kids that are home for a holiday break, and they get out of their usual routines too. If you are anything like me, you may have stayed up later than usual, eaten more snacks, and drank more wine, and gotten out of your exercise or self care routine.
As you ease back into the new year, and kids get back to school, take some time for yourself to decompress and rest before you start taking down the holiday decorations and finding home for all those gifts. Resting and extra self care activities can help you rejuvenate your body and spirit.
Relax and unwind.
For many of us, the holiday break can be anything but restful. You may have gone to many different outings, or been entertaining guests. Even just having the kids home from school, and needing to be constantly entertained can be stressful.
You may be, like me, looking at a mess of Christmas toys strewn everywhere, and a refrigerator full of leftovers that badly needs cleaning. Or, you may be returning to work and two weeks of unread emails.
Before you dive head first into a mass of cleaning or playing catch up, take some time for yourself to rest and get into a clear head space. If you can, take some time to do yoga, meditation, or take a long soak in the tub before you start your day. It is also important to get back to your regular sleep schedule, as sleep has a huge impact on our overall health.
It is helpful to get yourself and the kids back onto a regular sleep schedule before you head back to work and school. Try setting your alarm for your usual time, and getting the kids to bed at an earlier time, so that everyone is well rested before you go back to your pre-holiday routine. If you have several days to do this, you can move your sleep schedule gradually, changing by 15-30 minutes per day. That way, you aren't going from staying up at midnight to see the ball drop, to getting up at 6am again the next day. Going gradually can make it easier to shift your schedule.
Be gentle with yourself.
Holidays are a flurry of excitement and activity, and there are a lot of expectations that go into creating a 'perfect' holiday. If you have been on a high of happy feelings, going back to normal can feel like a let-down, and that is perfectly normal.
On the flip side, if your holiday didn't measure up to your expectations, you may be feeling disappointed, down or depressed.
In either case, accept that your feelings are perfectly normal. You may feel in a state of the doldrums going back into January, and have trouble thinking of new things to look forward to in the New Year. Being gentle and kind to yourself is important when you are feeling emotionally down or depleted.
Remember, you can't change the way things went. Hopefully you got to make some wonderful memories, and spend time with loved ones. Or, you may have had family that needed to quarantine and stay away from the holiday gathering.
No matter how you are feeling, there are many other people probably feeling the same. It can be helpful to schedule a therapy appointment to start the year, or call a good friend and talk through your feelings. Or you may want to take a long journaling session and let all of your feelings out on paper.
I have personally found that when I accept my feelings, whatever they are, it helps me to cope with them better. I try not to judge myself or my feelings, I simply sit with them and allow them to be as they are. I take a day or two to process through my feelings, so that I can move completely past them, and then it is easier to let go of unhappiness. Simply forcing myself to pretend to be happy doesn't work, and it tends to lead to outbursts or resentment.
I like to unwind with some candles lit, and some calming music. Warm tea is also great, anything that makes you feel relaxed, and like you are spoiling yourself a little bit is super helpful.
Take care of your health.
If you have been at a lot of holiday gatherings, chances are that if you are like me, you have probably eaten a lot of indulgent snacks, or had more wine than usual. Before you try to start on any drastic diet plans, try to replenish your body too.
Make sure that you are taking all your usual vitamins again, as you may have gotten out of the routine. It is also helpful to replenish your body with electrolytes, as some of the things we eat can leave us dehydrated, especially chocolate and alcohol. I love to drink vitamin water, you can also drink Gatorade, enriched water, or take some emergen-c in your water. Drinking your 8 glasses of water again like usual can also be a big help.
According to The Insider, you can also get electrolytes from:
Drinking unsweetened coconut water
Consuming dairy products
Cooking white meat and poultry
Drinking fruit juice
Snacking on watermelon
In addition to these, I also like to drink Aloe Water. The chunks of aloe in the beverage help to hydrate you longer as they are digested. This is also true of eating cucumber, as it has a high water content as well.
By getting enough electrolytes back into your system in the days and weeks following the holidays, you can help yourself and your family get back into a balanced diet after eating rich foods and snacking.
Ease back into exercise.
If you have been out of your exercise routine over the holidays, it can be good to ease back in slowly. Remember when you first started working out? Work out like that. You may not want to start back with a 30 minute HIIT workout right away, or run a few miles.
I missed a few days of yoga over the holidays, or did only a few minutes a day to maintain my habit. I slow, gentle Yin Yoga class can be the calming medicine that your body needs too. Yoga can rejuvenate both your body and mind, by taking it slow and focusing on your calming breath.
Before you start with any new exercise habits right off the bat, make sure that you take a week or two to get back to where you were before the holidays. If you usually work out for 30 minutes or an hour, try starting with 10 or 15 minutes. Or even just 5 minutes if you are feeling really tired.
The endorphins from exercise can start to kick your metabolism back into gear, but starting slowly will keep you from tearing a muscle or wearing yourself out.
Every day, or few days, you can gradually increase your exercise time and intensity, until you are back where you were before with your workouts. Like me, you may find that after just a few days, you are feeling like you have as much energy with your work outs as you did before.
Once you have gotten back into your usual work out routine, then it is OK to do a more intense or longer class. That way, you are physically and mentally to take on any new work out challenges that may be coming out for the new year. Last January, I did the 14 day yoga challenge from Boho Beautiful. It was a rather intense way to start the year, and starting on January 14 instead of January 1st isn't going to make a huge difference on your long-term goals.
It is better to start slow and build endurance than to push too hard too fast, and end up burning out. Just as that is true with exercise, it is true with any other aspects of your life as well.
Getting the kids back into a routine.
As the kids are going back to school in the new year, it can be a good idea to let them relax and unwind when they get home. They may be back at it with regular classes and home work, so if they have a lot of homework to do, try taking a break from other activities for a couple of weeks until they get back into the swing of things.
Many kids have a host of after-school activities that they participate in regularly, and it can be good to give them a break from those activities as they are acclimating back to being at school, which can take a lot of mental energy.
Similarly to what you can do for yourself, make sure that the kids are eating healthy, getting proper sleep, and taking time for rest and self care too. This may look different for kids than us, and they may just want to zone out with TV and video games, or curl up with a book. As they ease back into their usual schedule, it is ok to let them indulge a little bit too.
Once they are used to being back at school and doing homework again, it is a good time to get back into other routines like their extra-curriculars, or having a family game night or meatless Monday.
Sitting down to have dinner can and taking time to mindfully connect with your kids each day is important too. Listen to what they did during the day, their hopes, dreams, thoughts and feelings. This can help them acclimate back to their regular routine more easily, as they know they have your support and attention.
Be gentle with yourself as you mindfully ease back into your usual routine. Take things slowly, and build back up gradually to doing all the things you did before the holidays. Trying to push yourself too much too fast can lead to exhaustion and burn out.
Often, we put too much pressure on ourselves at the beginning of the year with a bunch of ambitious goals. Setting goals is great, but be sure to take some time to rest and recharge before you jump right into something new. Your body and mind need time to recharge and adjust to doing all the things you did before the holidays before you take on something new.
Gradual progress, and easing back into your routine, can help you go farther than if you try to do harder things right away. Remember, you have all year to make those New Year's Resolutions into a reality, and you don't need to push yourself to accomplish everything by the end of January.
Just like the story of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. Have patience and persistence, and you will do everything that you want to later into the year.