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Back to Work? How to Beat the Holiday Blues

Holidays! It’s the time to relax and enjoy life, away from the daily grind and routine lifestyle. Many, however, lose a bit of control when they’re on vacation. In holiday mode we tend to eat what we want, drink a bit more, don’t worry about putting on weight – and get out of shape.

Getting back on track after a timeout from work isn’t always easy. Some even feel more tired after a holiday than before, while some get depressed when returning to work. We at Samitivej gathered a few tips on how to beat the post-vacation blues. We asked our doctors for advice how to get back to the routine, and here is what they recommend.

Managing the transition from relaxing holidays to hyperactive work can be achieved with these few simple guidelines. All it takes is a bit of discipline and this easy-to-follow, highly effective “back to work program”. You will regain fitness, boost your energy levels and lose weight in no time. Let’s get going!

  • Cardio / exercise

As the Romans said, “mens sana in corpore sano”, a healthy mind in a healthy body. It is important to make your body function healthily, which can simply be done by being a bit more active. By increasing your heart rate, you can increase blood flow and burn calories.

You don’t even need to visit a gym to get back into shape. Just normal push-ups, planks, squats, etc., from the comfort of your own home can be sufficient to help you get back into shape again. Nevertheless, you should be aiming to provide a full body workout, and not just focus on one area by only doing sit-ups or planks. A multi-focus approach is considered the best way to lose that belly which may have grown over the holidays.

Note to self: start slow. When you get back to exercise you’re a bit rusty. Don’t jump right back into the same intensity you did before the holidays to avoid a potential risk of injury.

And why not give weight training a try. Exercises that aim to build muscle mass provide a stronger muscoloskeletal health and hormonal balance, particularly in regard to cortisol, the stress hormone which can easily increase just by normal body weight exercises. Strength training can also help increase testosterone levels and stabilizes the body’s insulin levels.

When your muscles grow and become stronger, the body is required to burn more energy than before. So if weight training is undertaken alongside cardio work, this will increase the speed at which you lose weight and also be effective in firming up your body.

A word of caution, however, if you have abstained from weight training for an extended period of time. Go easy. It’s important to gradually let your muscles get used to greater work load. Also, training protocols should be different according to your goals. If you are trying to build muscle, you should be doing a low number of repetitions, across a higher amount of sets, whereas if you wish to build up your muscle endurance, you’ll need to be increasing the amount of repetitions, but reducing the amount of rest time between sets to around 45 seconds to two minutes.

  • Diet / nutrition

Exercises after a long break must be slow and gentle, but diet control would require the opposite. It is recommended that you should get back on a healthy nutrition track as soon as possible.

For those who still feel tired and fatigued, you should focus on an adequate amount of macronutrients and micronutrients. Add lean protein sources to your meals, such as meat, chicken, fish, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that contain a high amount of useful antioxidants. No less important are healthy fats, from sources such as olive oil and nuts, in moderate consumption.

During the transition phase it’s not always easy to get enough nutrients. Supplements might be a good idea. They give your cells what they need to extract more energy from food and use that energy better, keeping you energized and alert.

Here are some supplements to consider to get you back on track more quickly:

  • Natural antioxidants mix with vitamin C, E, carotene and lycopene, to fight harmful free radicals caused by negative lifestyle effects during holidays or travel-related stress.
  • Energy-producing cofactors, such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), L-carnitine and N-acetylcysteine (NAC), to assist your mitochondrial on producing energy and the ATP molecule (denosine triphosphate) which stores and transports chemical energy within cells. ATP release during muscle exertion helps you get back to exercise more effectively.
  • Vitamin B complex, beneficial to your nervous system and helps restore restful sleep.

Which brings us to the last part of our “back to work” program:

  • Life balance / sleep

Sad but true, holidays can make you more tired due to parties. and irregular sleeping patterns. Or you might have poor sleep due to traveling across different time zones. Adequate sleep is key to a healthy lifestyle. Having a good night’s sleep benefits your heart, weight, mind and more.

When you return home from fun-filled holidays, ensure that your body returns to a balanced state by going to sleep at an appropriate time, at around 10 p.m. each night, and make sure you get between 7-8 hours of sleep. This will help restore your body quickly to its former health.

And what many ignore is the importance of proper hydration. They simply forget to sufficiently hydrate the body throughout the day or are afraid of needing the bathroom too often. Drinking plenty of water not only helps relieve hunger that comes with dehydration and exhaustion. Water helps cleanse your body, inside and out. You should drink around two liters of water per day, and around three liters if you are in a warm climate or perform moderate to intense exercise.

To sum it up, getting back into shape upon your return from holidays is pretty simple by just being diligent with food and exercise. Also make sure to rest and hydrate sufficiently.

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Benjapol Benjapalakorn, Ed. D.,

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