We have literally entered the year with a multitude of flat batteries: physically, emotionally, and to add to the discomfort, also Eskom-induced.

It has been a tough couple of years and our personal batteries are battered and flat, and practically depleted before the end of the first month. To add to the pressure, we are frantically installing solar, inverters, and UPS systems, stressing about rising costs and being forced to navigate school arrangements, work pressure, and domestic commitments around Eskom’s load-shedding timetable. It is a lot to bear.

But I just had a holiday why am I so tired?

It is important to remember that having a break over the festive season is not always relaxing. Many of us had a stressful holiday due to increased responsibilities, appeasing the in-laws or extended family, traveling with small children, working whilst supposedly being on leave, or experiencing emotional distress such as loss, relationship conflict, etc.

Post-vacation fatigue is real and re-entry back to reality can be extremely brutal. We have dreams and ideals for the year that lies ahead yet feel drained and far too frazzled to even consider being inspired.

READ: New Year’s resolutions: Stop setting yourself up for failure

Recover and restore

We have become so accustomed to being busy, overworked, highly strung, and exhausted throughout the year that we assume taking a break over the festive season is going to magically restore our balance and well-being.
It is not just working insane hours and trying to outdo ourselves at the office, it is also escalating parental obligations, excessive social media consumption, commuting, consumerism and “keeping up with the Joneses” that drain our energy and leave our minds in a whirlpool of busyness. There is no magic fix to the tired spiral.
We need to consciously change our attitudes, awareness, and priorities. Start here:

1. Get excited about sleep! It has been said many times over: sleep is the most important activity that you need to prioritise.

WATCH: My top tips on getting a better night’s rest

2. Take stock. Reflect and jot down the things, people, activities, and or responsibilities that drain you. And note those down that energise you. A useful tool to help you navigate this exercise is the Wheel of Life.

3. Declutter. Now that you know what drains you, make sure that you get rid of it! These “things” not only drain your energy but also steals your time to do the things that inspire you.

Piles of stuff everywhere, overflowing drawers and messy workspaces, make us feel overwhelmed and fatigued. Start with a small space and notice how your mood lifts. The sense of accomplishment from this very tiny change will leave you inspired to tackle an area each week.

Remember if it is not JOYFUL, or BEAUTIFUL, or USEFUL, get rid of it. It might seem “clinical” but it is important for us to evaluate our belongings, our relationships, and our activities to be able to limit our exposure to “energy thieves”.

4. Re-allocate your time. Planning is crucial! Keep a diary, and schedule time for your invigorating energy boosters.

READ: How to practice self-care

Be conscious of your screen time, especially Netflix. I know that after a long day of planning and thinking and doing, binge-watching a series might seem like a way to relax. However, it is a black hole, sucking up a large amount of time that you could have been doing something productive, creative, or meaningful. Binge-watching interrupts your sleep patterns, encourages a sedentary lifestyle, leaving you feeling empty and unaccomplished.

By all means watch your favourite show, just limit your exposure by:

  • Turning off notifications
  • Deactivating the playback option
  • If you are addicted, use a time-tracking and app-limiting solution, which will restrict your viewing on a daily or weekly basis.

5. Go for a check-up. Sometimes our continuous level of fatigue is due to medical conditions such as low iron levels, vitamin deficiency, thyroid disorders, or mental health (depression, anxiety, etc). Consult your local clinic or GP, uncover the condition, and follow their advice and treatment options.

6. Incorporate deliberate recovery. Being on holiday is not the only time that you are allowed to relax and rest. Avoid burnout by building in daily opportunities to daydream, practice a new skill or craft, connect with friends, take a gentle stroll, build a puzzle, or read. Whichever activity you choose, start small and grow your interest as your energy levels return for good.