The January Hangover

Exhausted before the year’s begun?

During the countdown to Christmas holidays, we dream of long relaxing days on the beach, reading that novel that’s taken up residence on the bedside table or dozing off for an afternoon nap in rock-a-by hammock. But in reality, most of us leave work at the end of the year and don’t stop until we get back to our desks in early Jan.

We cram as much as we can into our summer breaks - friends, Christmas shopping, family (and more family), Christmas ham, leftover turkey, road trips, odd jobs… and the list goes on. By the time the New Year rolls around, we’re all socialised out, and feeling the need for some serious detoxing and rebooting.

It seems counterintuitive - we crave downtime at the end of the year and then proceed to exhaust ourselves over the break. This means that we start the New Year with even less energy than we had at the end of the last.

We call this...

If there’s one thing that the January-hangover highlights – it’s how much we struggle to slow down. The manic, non-stop, “what’s next?” pace of our lives doesn’t halt when we leave the office. In fact, holidays become more time to fill. And fill it we do, until we’re utterly exhausted. Not exactly the way you want to feel at the start of a brand new year.

So how can we reverse the January-hangover?

By slowing down!

For many of us – slowing down can feel like a waste of time. Something that we’ll get around to when we have some spare time. But this is precisely the problem – ‘spare time’ never comes because we habitually fill it with other stuff. If we wait for some ‘spare time’– we’ll be waiting a long time and slowly descending into exhaustion along the way.

What are the signs that you might need to slow down?

Carl Honore, founder of the Slow Movement suggests that these may be signs that you’re a rushaholic:

-        Feeling tired all of the time

-        Feeling like you’re going through the motions

-        Getting through your To-Do list but not enjoying or engaging with anything deeply

-        Difficulty remembering things as clearly

-        Feeling like it’s a race against the clock

-        Getting sick and run down regularly

If this sounds like you, here are 4 easy steps for slowing down and reversing the January-hangover:

1.     Make a list of all the things that give you energy (rather than deplete it). Some examples might be:

-        Reading (for pleasure)

-        Swimming in the ocean

-        Walking on the beach

-        Dancing (alone?)

-        Having a bath

-        Being silent

-        Journaling

-        Meditating or doing yoga

-        Drawing, painting or any other artistic pursuit that you get lost in

-        Watching the sunrise or sunset

2.     Make time. If you want to slow down, you need to make time, rather than wait for time. Get out your diary, find some time over the next week just for you, and pencil in your energy-giving activity. Commit to this with the same resolve that you would commit to meeting up with a friend for an important occasion. The kind of commitment that sounds like “no matter what, I’ll be there”.

3.     Say no. All too often, we end up at the end of our own ‘to-do’ lists. When something or someone else pops up, we say “yes” straight away, and unintentionally deprioritise our own time. Part of slowing down, is firming up the boundaries around ‘me time’ and learning to say no.

4.     Disconnect. When ‘me time’ rolls around switch off your devices (your phone, the tv, and your laptop). Save yourself the temptation of jumping off your yoga mat to check the latest WhatsApp thread. Disconnecting in this way will allow you to settle into and reconnect with yourself more deeply.

We’d love to hear about your experiences of the slowing down, rebooting and recovering from your January-Hangover. What works for you?