By Erinn Bucklan
After all the buildup and pressure leading up to the holidays, who doesn’t feel like they need a break during the last week of the year? “This time of year is stressful because of the combination of heightened activity level and heightened expectations,” says James Campbell Quick, professor of leadership and organizational behavior at the University of Texas at Arlington. “For those who have not made time for peace in their lives, this can be a really challenging season.”
Use the downtime between Christmas and New Year’s to recoup some of the vitality you’ve lost over the last couple of weeks. We found some surefire ways to relax and recharge in the days between December 26 and December 31.
Add Some Z's
Whether it’s those bedtime hours you skipped to wrap last-minute presents or the fact that you were hanging out at the work holiday party until last call, chances are you’ve denied yourself some snoozes in recent weeks. And while you can't catch up on sleep, missing Z's does take a toll on your body. Over time, sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your immune system the same way chronic stress can. It can up your chances of developing diabetes, hypertension, depression and obesity. So reset your body for 2014 by turning in early, aiming to get between eight and nine hours of shut-eye a night.
Take A Nature Walk
When the days get shorter and the temperature drops, a walk outdoors can be the last thing on your mind. However, exposure to trees and nature just may be one of the simplest ways to quickly recharge. Not only will spending time outdoors lift your mood and cut stress, it can also havephysical benefits. Breathing in phytoncides -- beneficial chemicals that plants emit to help protect them from insects and disease -- will improve your immune system and lower your stress-hormone levels.
Book Time With Friends
You read that right: After all the holiday parties, it can be hard to believe that spending more time with friends would make the list of ways to feel energized in a season of... well, too many parties. But feelings of isolation have nothing to do with how many Facebook friends you have. Loneliness is a stressor linked to all kinds of negative effects on the body, from heart disease to diabetes. So schedule some brunches with your BFFs this week. Hanging out with close friends is one of the best routes to a quick pick-me-up.
“Aim for at least 64 ounces of water per day to hydrate, reenergize and flush out toxins,” says nutrition expert Erin Palinski, RD, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies. Even mild dehydration can hurt your mood and your energy level. So drink two to three liters of water a day (even when you’re not feeling thirsty) to stay hydrated.
Go Natural (When It Comes To Food)
In other words, eat as many whole foods as you can for a week. “Consuming foods with minimal ingredients is a great way to recharge,” says Palinski. “Fill your plate with whole fruits and vegetables as often as you can.” People who eat between seven or eight servings of fruits and veggies per day tend to feel calmer, happier and more energetic than those who don't.
Follow these steps to refresh and recharge so you can start the New Year feeling your best (or at least start New Year's Eve feeling your best). Happy New Year!