How to Get Back on Track after a Holiday Weekend

keep calm and carrie on poster

It’s amazing how much a holiday weekend can throw off a schedule. Thanksgiving weekend was only four days, but when you add in the fact that most of us were traveling or hosting, spending time with family we don’t see much, eating a lot of fatty, sugary, carb-y food and losing sleep in favor of shopping — well, all that can put us out of whack. All the habits and positive momentum we had going before the break seems gone in a flash, and restarting those habits feels impossible.

Maybe trying to slip back into our pattern immediately is part of the problem. I’m trying to have a little more grace with myself this time, easing back into productivity and good habits instead of throwing myself headlong into them. This is not my way; I’m really more of a headlong-thrower than a reasonable-progresser. The trouble is, my natural impulse to give 100% doesn’t work when I don’t have 100% to give, and when I’m run down and tired, I don’t have it in me. With the idea that a little bit of progress that builds throughout the week is better than forcing myself to do everything and burning out by Tuesday afternoon, here’s what I’ve planned for bouncing back this week:

Triage My List

Annoyingly, the Tuesday morning after a holiday is even worse than the Monday when it comes to email — everyone got back to their desks yesterday and started firing off the meeting invites and pushing tasks off of their desks, and those delegated tasks are bound to hit today. Added to the list I already had going from before I left on holiday, this can seem unmanageable.

When I dive into my list without a plan (like I did yesterday), it gets overwhelming really quickly. I also tend to be pulled away from it to work on other people’s projects because I don’t have priorities set for my own. Instead, I’m trying to list everything I feel like I need to do, and then cut it down to just one to three things that actually have to be done today. Yes, I’d like to catch up on all the work at once. Yes, it all seems high priority. But I’ve got to start slowly, and that means choosing just a couple of projects that truly have to be done and focusing on those.

Grocery Shop One Day at a Time

Are you one of those people who sees cooking as stress release? Well, good for you, but that isn’t me. I’m constantly telling myself I should eat healthier and making myself crazy with stress by trying to meal plan and meal prep. I had grand plans to get my culinary life in order over the Thanksgiving break, and instead, I ended up watching The Great British Bake Off and eating leftover pizza. Normally, I’d “solve” this by either a) beating myself up about it, b) eating out and grabbing quick, snack-type foods all week, or c) a little of both.

This time, though, I’m trying to take meal planning one day at a time — instead of worrying about getting everything onto my grocery list and prepping meals on one day, I’m stopping to get what I need for the next day or two so that I don’t have to stress about buying and prepping enough food for the entire week. It’s probably an inefficient way to live life, but I’m not doing it for life — I’m doing it to get through this week.

Do Some Yoga or Meditation

One of the most frustrating things about taking a break, for me, is getting back into my exercise routine. At the heart of me, there’s still a bookish high school girl who’d do absolutely anything to get out of going to P.E., and even a few days out of the pattern is usually enough for me to completely lose momentum on an exercise plan, even if it was something I’d been enjoying.

Yesterday, I set my alarm to go work out, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Today, I felt the same. But instead of giving up completely, I did 10 minutes of yoga before my coffee this morning. It’s not the same as 30 minutes of cardio, but it’s better than nothing — and I’m more likely to feel good enough to give the gym another shot tomorrow. (Or maybe next week.) Not into yoga? I also like using the Headspace app for 10 minutes of guided meditation. (It’s a free app.)

I’m still just experimenting with this whole moderation thing, but, so far, it seems to be working. I haven’t gotten caught up in my usually all-or-nothing traps, I’ve gotten through a decent amount of work, and I’m feeling much better as the carb fog and Netflix haze are slowly lifting.

Carrie Rollwagen is author of The Localist, a book about buying from locally owned stores and cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Currently, she works as Communications Director at Infomedia, a web development company in Birmingham, Alabama. Find her as @crollwagen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and most other social media platforms.

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