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The Holiday Burnout Recovery Plan

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This post was written by Laurie Erdman, founder of Chronic Wellness Coaching. The views expressed herein are hers and hers alone.

Photo by Florin Garoi

It’s with cruel irony that new diets and gym commitments follow the busiest, most over-indulgent time of the year. As a result, many of us enter the New Year feeling burnt out, groggy, and pudgy — and like the idea of “new year, new you” is far, far out of reach. No wonder up to 77 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail.

So how do those of us who still want to make (and attain) New Year’s resolutions beat the trend and successfully achieve our goals? There’s an important step a lot of resolution-makers miss in the pursuit of weight loss, triathlon training, or making new habits, and it’s key to meeting our goals. Changing our routines and building new habits takes energy — lots of it — and energy is the one thing that’s often in shortest supply at the end of the holiday season.

And herein lies the secret: Before tackling any resolutions, we first need to recover from post-holiday burnout.

This guide is designed with holiday recovery and self-care in mind. It will outline the basic steps needed to reenergize our bodies, minds, and sense of purpose so we can achieve those resolutions — but only when we’re really and truly ready, not when the calendar’s date tells us to.

Energize The Body

To start 2013 with abundant energy, we have to start by building a foundation. Not surprisingly, the food we eat is a key part of this groundwork (food is energy, after all!). To practice self-care around eating, I recommend people start by feeding their bodies with wholesome, nutritious foods. Don’t worry about eliminating things from your diet; focus instead on adding nutrient-dense foods to meals. Sure, there’s no real nutritional value in a holiday cookie, but don’t feel obligated to start by taking it away. Focus instead on adding in some good stuff each day, like an apple with breakfast or a side salad at lunch. Start simply. Remember, you’re recovering from burnout, not trying to win a swimsuit competition (save that for when you’ve recovered.)

One of my favorite (and one of the easiest) ways to add more nutrients to one’s daily diet is green juicing. Broccoli, kale, and bok choy are all great examples of high-energy foods that can be juiced in order to give the body a quick boost. Try this simple green juice recipe for an instant energy lift:

Seriously Green, Seriously Good Juice

1 cucumber (regular type)
3 leaves of romaine lettuce
2 leaves of kale
1 or 2 stalks of broccoli
1 lemon, yellow removed from skin (feel free to retain the white, which is high in calcium)
1 green apple

Simply juice and enjoy!

Feeding the body’s cells with more nutrient-rich greens — “Vitamin G,” if you will — will promote more energy and a sense of rejuvenation.

Energize The Mind

In the New Year, so much of our focus is often placed on how we eat and how much we exercise. Obviously, these habits are important.  But long-lasting energy is about more than how we fuel our body. It’s also about how we fuel our mind.

Imagine that every thought you think is a message to every one of the trillions of cells in your body. Now imagine that every 10 minutes you have a thought along the lines of, “I suck”, “I’ll never be happy”, or “I’m a lazy loser.” No one’s going to feel ready to take on new challenges with thoughts like these dominating their headspace. The reality is that you don’t suck, you can be happy, and you aren’t a lazy loser — but continually feeding your mind with negative thoughts will certainly make it feel like these disparaging beliefs are true. We get what we focus on, simple as that.

In fact, the way we think might influence our body’s vitality, right down to our cells. According to Bruce Lipton, stem cell biologist and author of the Biology of Belief, “Each cell is an intelligent being that can survive on its own, as scientists demonstrate when they remove individual cells from the body and grow them in a culture.” Lipton proposes that every thought we think is stored in our cells and informs the brain. This is how people can die of a “broken heart,” or land a perfect-10 vault with a sprained ankle. It all comes down to the power of the mind.

If we accept that we create energy on a cellular level, then it’s not only important to fuel our cells with good food — it’s also important to fuel them with positive, energizing thoughts. That’s right: I’m suggesting that in order to feel more energized, people should change the way they think.

There are a lot of strategies out there for keeping spirits high. But these are my top three tips for maintaining mental energy:

1. Be grateful. Every day, write down three different things for which you’re grateful. This will help you focus more on the positive things in your life and shift away from focusing on the negative.

2. Grab some tunes. Music is a powerful energy creator. Take the time to make a playlist of your favorite, heart-thumping tunes. Play this “Mind-Energizing Playlist” every morning for at least ten minutes or as needed throughout the day. Some of my personal favorites? “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga and “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas.

3. Meditate. Quiet your mind. Listen to the space between your thoughts. Through meditation, you can begin to cultivate inner peace and tap into the energy source within you.

Most New Year’s plans rely on willpower, which almost always fails eventually (we can only force ourselves to do things for so long before we run out of steam). By harnessing the power of the mind with these energizing tips, people are less likely to run out of energy — and more likely to be successful with their resolutions.

Energize Your Purpose

Most people understand that a healthy body and a peaceful mind are key to lasting energy and wellness. But perhaps the most overlooked source of energy is a feeling of purpose.

We can think of purpose as whatever it is that gets a person out of bed in the morning and keeps them going during the day. Hopefully, it’s something more inspired than “earning a paycheck” — but we all start somewhere. Luckily, purpose is about much more than what a person does to earn a living. It’s about how a person spends their time, whether it’s exploring hobbies, volunteering for a cause, raising awesome kids, or training for a bike ride to raise money for a cure.

The key to connecting with your own sense of purpose is to look inside. Ask yourself, “What will make me feel complete? What could I talk about for hours? What would I do if money weren’t a factor?” The answers to these questions will help clarify how you can best utilize your spare time.

Though these questions may seem easy enough, finding one’s purpose can sometimes feel like a daunting task, reserved only for those with large bank accounts and loads of free time. However, the reality is that anyone can find their purpose in less than 5 seconds. All a person needs to do is ask: “How can I be my best self in this moment?”

This simple question lies at the heart of the idea of “purpose.” It breaks people out of their routines and obligations and opens them up to something bigger than the day-to-day — something motivated more by love than by habit or responsibility. And love is the ultimate rejuvenating emotion.

Surveys find the most popular New Year’s Resolutions are to get out of debt, lose weight, and exercise. These goals suggest that what people really want is a greater sense of security and to feel good about themselves. While getting out of debt and getting healthy are stepping stones on the path toward greater security and self-esteem, they’re not the final answer.  In pursuing our purpose — our best self in every moment — we connect to a place of security and self-esteem inside of ourselves. And that is the ultimate energy boost.

Takeaways

As we approach the New Year, I advise people not to make any new commitments until they’ve developed a holiday recovery plan, followed it, and emerged feeling revitalized and truly ready to tackle any new resolutions. By treating ourselves with some tender loving care and bringing renewed energy to our bodies, minds, and sense of purpose, we can enter the New Year ready to make it the best one yet.

How do you recover from holiday burnout? What are your go-to tips for feeling and staying energized? Start a conversation in the comments below!

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