As summer holidays approach, many of us are feeling the effects of a long year and find ourselves well overdue for some self-care. Unlike our northern hemisphere counterparts who have a summer break in the middle of the year, it’s not uncommon for Kiwis to squirrel away annual leave and hang on before taking decent time out.
All of this over-extending and stretching your limits with little time for yourself often leads to end of year burnout, with little to nothing left in the tank to tackle the new year ahead despite the best of intentions.
Here are a few tips from Evolve to help you regenerate over the holiday break:
· If you’re taking your holidays over Christmas, you may also have been saving that time to amp up your exercise. Summer lends itself to so many wonderful activities such as swimming, surfing and runs along the beach. However, if you are feeling the end of year burnout, your cortisol levels may well be off the charts. Avoid stressing an already stressed system by choosing lighter restorative exercise to start out – think light walks, yoga, social fun outdoor games or swimming. Less is more for the central nervous system to recalibrate and switch out of the fight or flight fright mode, and into a safe zone of functioning – and that’s where the magic happens.
· Catch up on the sleep deficit that you may have developed throughout the year. Many of us pride ourselves on the little amount of sleep needed to function. In reality, not enough sleep leads to inadequate levels of growth repair hormones being released and increased levels of nerve growth factor being produced. Know that sleep will add years to your life, and make you feel more human.
· Be more and do less. Take advantage of the holiday mode and take some time out of your morning to practise mantra or mindfulness meditation to quieten the mind, improve concentration, reduce anxiety, and reset stress levels. There are many wonderful resources available to guide this practice, such as gaia.com.
· Reflect on the year’s triumphs and challenges. In our family, we make it an annual event where we celebrate successes and also learn from the difficult times. Several years ago, we adopted a habit of writing on small pieces of paper about stand out moments as they happened (good and bad) and popping them in a small box or jar. Sometime between after Christmas and before the New Year we sit around, read them out and feel grateful for the year’s lessons.
· Check in with your overall wellness and ask yourself: are you satisfied with where you are at this point in your life? The top three New Year’s resolutions that people tend to make are to exercise more, lose weight and eat healthier – but getting into shape isn’t just about ticking boxes. It’s a lifestyle, a habit and a journey. Remember to be kind to yourself, set realistic goals and expectations, and seek out and surround yourself with the guidance and support of a wellness professional. Your health is an investment – and you are worth it.
Gemma Monachino is the director of Evolve Health Integrated Health Specialists providing physiotherapy, acupuncture, functional movement systems, yoga and pilates. For more, visit evolvehealth.co.nz