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Managing stress

Managing stress

January 7, 2019

Easing yourself back into work after Christmas

Image credit: iStock/PeopleImages

The holiday period is often an opportunity to take some time off work to focus on Christmas, New Year's Eve and spending time with family and friends. However, all good things must come to an end, and you'll have to come back to work after it's over. We're into 2019 now, and many of us are feeling the strain already.

You might have heard of the 'January blues', which refers to the feeling of sadness many people experience after the fun of the holidays is over. This is often over-exaggerated in the media, but there are very real feelings of stress and tiredness you will have to contend with.

Luckily, we're here to help you out with some tips to get back into the habit of going to work. We'll explain why you might be feeling drained, as well as giving you some advice on how to get back into the swing of things.

 

Get back into a sleep schedule

One of the big problems you're likely to hit when you come back to work is that everything feels much harder than usual. You might have trouble concentrating, or remembering how to do elements of your job. This isn't all in your head; chances are, you're still sleep-deprived from the holidays.

Christmas and New Year's parties, combined with travelling to see family, all conspire to tire you out by chipping away at the time you get to spend asleep. Even having a relaxing holiday can be a problem; if you go from waking up at 10am to having to get up at 6am for work, your body is probably going to be in for a shock.

The best thing you can do at this stage is try to get your body back into a good sleep rhythm. You probably spent the holidays going to bed and waking up at some quite different times each day, which means your body can get confused about whether to make you feel alert or tired. You can fix this by sticking to a strict schedule, showing your body when it is time to sleep each night.

 

Treat your energy like a resource

Let's be honest; you probably overindulged during the holidays. Most people do, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Nevertheless, you might wake up on January 1st determined to start your diet and exercise plan as soon as possible, which isn't a great idea. After all, you're naturally going to be low on energy after a week or two of rich food, alcohol and parties.

Throwing yourself into an exercise routine at the same time as you're getting used to going back to work is likely to lead to you feeling burned out. The same goes for crash diets, or any major change in nutrition. Eating fewer calories means you will have less energy, and you will already feel drained without this extra burden.

You should think of your energy like a resource that gradually goes up within a few weeks. At first, you don't have enough of it to have a productive day at work, exercise and go on a diet all at the same time. You need to prioritise where you're going to spend it, and work your way up to doing all three gradually.

 

Make sure you're eating well

Yes, I know we just told you to avoid dieting, but the key in the first few weeks of work isn't eating less; it's eating smarter. All food gives you energy, but some is better at keeping you fuelled for longer. The last thing you want is to spend an hour feeling great, then crash and having to spend the next six dragging yourself through your job.

You might find yourself craving carbs at this point, but try to avoid them. Your lunchtime sandwich might be delicious, but it's likely to lead to a spike in energy, followed by a crash. Instead, aim to eat proteins and healthy fats. A good mid-morning snack, for example, might be a hard-boiled egg, or half an avocado.

It might be tempting to stick to a salad for lunch, but make sure you're getting some actual nutrition in there. You'll have to eat an awful lot of lettuce, cucumber and tomato to fuel your body throughout the afternoon, so consider adding some chicken, cottage cheese or another protein source to make sure you have the energy you need to get through your workday.

 

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