Many of us are battling to snap out of the mid-year doldrums. Here are our tips on how to get back into a routine. By Marchelle Abrahams.
You're back at work and ready to conquer the world after taking a mid-year break. The only problem is you’re feeling deflated and unmotivated.
Instead of grabbing life by the proverbial balls, you find yourself vegging out on the couch while watching episodes of Game Of Thrones, and gym is just a memory of a previous life you once had.
It’s called the mid-year blues and it takes no prisoners. But with hard work, perseverance and motivation, you can get back into a routine with these handy tips.
Spring into life
Most people find themselves with little or no motivation after taking a lengthy break. Psychologist Diane Mallaby says a number of factors could be contributing to feelings of seasonal affective disorder, which is a type of depression that is related to seasonal changes.
Most people suffering from it have symptoms that start in winter, sapping their energy and making them feel moody. Her advice is to set small, yet realistic goals to get back into the groove.
“One has to be patient, and it takes time to adjust after a holiday. Give yourself a few days to readjust, persevere and motivate yourself.”
She uses the upcoming season of spring as a metaphor for new beginnings: “It’s important to acknowledge that winter is coming to an end, and spring automatically lifts the mood.”
During winter your metabolism slows and we get only one or two days of sun a week. Biokineticist Marvin Jacobs, with the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, stresses the importance of exercise, even when you’re not in the mood.
“From a health point of view, exercise increases your metabolic rate for overall well-being,” he says. He says we should be taking advantage of sunny days for a natural shot of Vitamin D as a pick-me-up.
“Various studies have proven that exercise creates an endorphin rush and overall feeling of happiness.” The mistake most people make is to jump right into an exercise routine once they realise they only have a few months left to reach their summer body goals.
Jacobs suggests trying something new if you feel your current routine, or lack thereof, is not working for you. “If you’re in a relationship, here’s also your chance to get your partner to motivate you. Then there are apps and social media – use these to inspire you to kick-start your exercise routine.”
Avoid comfort food
Winter brings with it a whole new set of problems, including comfort eating. But that doesn’t mean giving in to your indulgences, says Sandi van Zyl, a registered dietitian at Virgin Active South Africa.
“It’s time to take action and become serious again about your health and fitness goals,” she says.
When it comes to vices, Van Zyl doesn’t candy coat her advice: “Make sure you know which one is yours and if it’s related to food. The best way to ensure you don’t overindulge is to avoid stocking that particular item at home – it’s usually a big deterrent if you have to get in your car and go to the shops to satisfy a craving.”
But it’s not all bad news if you’re struggling to kick a bad habit.
“If you know that you are going to be indulging more than usual on a particular day, try to fit in an extra exercise session on that day or the day after.
“And do include a cheat day occasionally – remember that you want to make long-term changes to your diet, and so you need to be realistic and practical.”
Most people set themselves almost impossible goals when it comes to losing weight.
“Don’t starve yourself if trying to lose weight,” Van Zyl says. It puts you at a disadvantage because “without fuel, you won’t be able to exercise optimally and without exercise, you won’t be able to burn the extra calories.”
In fact, starving yourself can lower your metabolism. Finally, speak about your goals to others. “The more people who know, the more people you’ll have to support you,” she says.