Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday Movement: Avoid Holiday Burnout

Welcome to Movement Monday!  This started as an email I sent weekly to my customers and clients designed to motivate continued action to achieve a desired goal throughout the week.  My mission is to provide the "want to" when it comes to reaching YOUR goal because the "how to" is different for every body and every goal.  When you are constantly seeking the truth, you will find exactly what you need.  Each email contains a subject, practical suggestions or encouragement surrounding the subject and powerful quotes that support the weekly theme.  After a big shift in my life, I am motivated to share my email with everyone!  My email subscribers will still receive an abridged version with a link to the full details here.

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday!  I certainly enjoyed spending time with my son and having the time off from work.  As I was up late on Wednesday night getting my Thanksgiving meal prepped, I was reminded of how it was typical for me to experience burnout this time year.  'Tis the season to be holly, jolly and so bright you burnout?  I'm certain this isn't the intention, but with the changes in schedules due to extra events and activities to celebrate the season, usually with abundance of heavy, sugary foods, it's hard to avoid feeling overwhelmed.  Between completing additional tasks for seasonal activities and a lack of control of my daily schedule, it was easy for me to feel like I just didn't want to participate in any holiday activities.

"There is more to life than increasing it's speed." -- Mahatma Gandhi

I know I'm not the only one who has felt they wanted to disengage from everything when things got busy.  In our fast-paced society, it is pretty common during this time of year.  Let's face it, we spend most of our days reacting to notifications and during the holidays, there are simply more of them.  Add to it the fact that many companies are pushing hard to accomplish year-end goals which may leave you with more stress than usual. If you are not careful ot manage this exponentially increasing stress, you can easily experience burnout.

This is what would happen to me nearly every year.  Just as I felt like I was managing the business of getting my son back into his school-time routine, football practice and game day Saturdays more would be added on with the holidays; travel, shopping, parties, events.  It also seemed routine for my company to plan a project deadline just before the holidays.  I suppose the hope was that engineers would be pushed to get it done so they could relax over the holidays, but the projects were always behind and never actually completed before January!  By the time the holidays hit, I had already been operating at full capacity.  Adding more fuel can certainly make the fire burn brighter, but it can also cause the flame to burnout.

"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it." -- Sydney J. Harris

There is a difference between stress and burnout.  Burnout hits when you've been operating at high-capacity for a while and haven't given yourself the appropriate relief.  Burnout hits almost overnight.  All of a sudden, you find it hard to get out of bed.  You may find it hard to get to work on time.  You've lost all desire to get things done like you used to.  Most importantly, you avoid engaging with others.  You might be easily distracted when interacting with family and friends you would normally interact with daily.  During the holidays, you start to feel like a scrooge, easily annoyed at all the hustle and bustle going on around you.

Although my Thanksgiving weekend started off a little busier than I would have liked, I'm happy to have noticed that I was heading for burnout if I didn't take heed.  Since I've started focusing on living a healthy lifestyle - eating nutritiously, daily workouts, regular water intake and improved sleep, I am less likely to experience burnout during this time of year than I did in the past.  It's because it's these same "healthy lifestyle" activities that are important for avoiding and relieving symptoms of burnout.

"Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life." -- Marilu Henner

  • Get your normal amount of sleep, at least.  It's easy to neglect a little sleep trying to get more done, but we actually need more sleep than usual during the winter months.  As much as we try to ignore mother nature, the shortened daylight hours during winter signal our bodies to hibernate.  Neglecting to get our regular amounts of sleep only add to our stress and feelings of overwhelm.  
  • Make exercise a priority.  Even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing, exercise is a powerful antidote to stress and burnout.  Research shows that your body creates endogenous endorphins and enkephalins, which are just fancy words for endogenous morphine and endogenous opiates.  Yep!!  Just like the stuff you're thinking of, this helps you feel good and relaxed after your workout!  Not only do your workouts increase your mood, but they also improve your focus.  You don't have to create some elaborate workout routine or get a new gym membership.  You can simply start with taking short walks throughout the day.  If you need a little more of a boost, try a 30-day trial to stream a variety of challenging workouts online.
  • Eat a healthy diet.  I know it's challenging during this time of year with over-abundance of treats and sweets, but no that saying "no" to some of this stuff means saying "yes" to enjoying the season!   Your goal is to minimize the foods that adversely effect your moods and energy, like sugar, refined carbs, trans fat and chemicals to name a few.  Choose foods that give you fuel, that boost your brain-power and keep you satiated throughout your busy days, by including more protein and fiber; i.e. lean meats, nuts, legumes, fresh fruits and fresh veggies.  Include more foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, walnuts and flaxseed to name a few. 
  • Stay hydrated.  Focus on H2O!  Water keeps your body moving at it's best.  Aim for at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water every day.
  • Stick to a routine.  It's definitely a challenge to stick to your regular routine during the holidays, but do your best.  Plan out your weeks so that you're only taking on what you can realistically handle without skipping workouts and any time needed for meal prep.  The more you feel in control of your schedule, the less likely you are to get overwhelmed.
This list is a great start to what has kept me from experiencing burnout during the holidays so that I can truly make great memories while spending invaluable time with family and friends.  It is also helpful in warding off that undesired holiday weight gain.  I find that the years I experience burnout are also the years I've managed to gain the most weight during the holidays.  If you've experienced burnout in the past, I want to challenge you to take a whole new look at how you spend the holidays.  Take time to take control and avoid it this year by taking a little more care for yourself.  I know you can do it!  You are worth it!!

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