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How to recover from the Post-Holiday Hangover

The holiday season can be wonderful, but it can leave many people feeling run down and exhausted. Here are a few strategies to help you recover and thrive in the new year.

Whether or not you traveled to see family/friends or stayed home and just relaxed, the holidays usually represent a departure from our normal work-life structure. Holiday treats abound at work, in stores, in the mail, and at holiday parties. There is sometimes the expectation to travel to see family, which can be fraught with travel delays, uncomfortable sleeping accommodations, and different time zones. Time spent with relatives and friends can be fun and also stressful. Pressures abound to get along and to make it “the most wonderful time of the year", which, let's face it, is rather unreasonable for most of us.

But the holidays are over, and now you are back in your normal life routines. So how come you feel emotionally and physically exhausted? It’s called a holiday hangover, and there are ways to expedite your recovery.

Here are the top post-holiday hangover causes and ways to move forward:
  • Family issues: Yes, your brother was rude to everyone and drank too much. Your aunt told you that “the extra COVID 20 pounds didn’t look that bad on you.” Try not to dwell too much on the family button-pushing that inevitably occurs during the holidays. Remember, you love your family, and they are not perfect. Try and let it go and focus on the qualities you value in each of them. If that is too ambiguous, check out our Gratitude Journal Prompts post and that may give you a place to start. 

  • Financial Pressures: Did you overextend on holiday gifts, sparkly clothes, or travel plans? Come up with a budget to dig out of debt. An extra $100 towards your credit card will help every month, and a few less Uber Eats can make a big difference. Also, be sure to return any gifts you don’t like because you have until January 31st with most companies. Do you need four pairs of new yoga pants?

  • Work Backlog: Do you feel buried by all the work that piled up while you took time off for the holidays? While it may seem like you have more to do than usual, keep in mind that many people take time off for the holidays. Just take it one day at a time and address those time-sensitive items first. If you feel paralyzed and need a little structure to help you work through it, check out the Eisenhower Matrix. It might help get you started.

  • Physical Exhaustion: Was your sleep dysregulated by time zone changes, late nights, or more alcohol than regular? It can take three or more days to recover from sleep deprivation or variations in your sleep-wake schedule by more than 90 minutes. Try to reset your circadian rhythm and get back to your regular sleep-wake schedule. Don’t forget to take care of yourself physically. 

  • Plan some forward-facing events: Yes, the holidays are over, so plan some fun outings for yourself so you have something to look forward to, such as a weekend outing to a local winery or a week away in March or April. Or start working on summer vacation plans. After all, the summer is only six months away from the holidays. 

In conclusion, recovering from the post-holiday period is about balance and perspective. Take things one step at a time, focus on self-care, feed your body nutrient dense whole foods, and before you know it, you'll be back to feeling like your best self, ready to take on what the new year has to offer.

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