Did you go abroad this summer? Enjoy a staycation in the UK, grab a weekend break or take a few days off in your garden? Whatever you managed, time out this summer had a different feel to it than any other year. We certainly all needed a holiday, but what did that mean in reality? There was still tension about what we could and couldn’t do, or where we could go. And at the back of our minds, how long before something else disrupted our lives?
So if you’re still feeling a bit tired or unsettled, you’re not alone!
Holidays disrupt our routine
Resetting after any break can be disruptive. Our systems get confused by change. It’s also possible that even after a wonderful holiday we can feel tired – or even ill. We’re also still considering the next stage of our Covid-19 world: What will it be like in the office? How will the kids find school? On top of that, our bodies can sense the seasonal change from warm sun to autumn chill – ending what has been the worst summer weather for a decade.
Transition takes a toll
The transition from a summer mindset to being back full-on can have a big impact on our health. It can be helpful to think of it in the following ways:
- Physical health (how our bodies work for us)
- Nutritional health (what we consume and how it affects us)
- Mental health (supporting and adapting our mental load)
The good news is that being fully aware of this can help us to plan ahead (just as you would do when you plan a nice break!). Check through the following sections which list some of the ‘cracks’ that this summer potentially caused. If you feel that any might apply to you, rectify them before they trip you up going forward. The best time for this is now.
Our Physical health: bones and muscles work differently
During the summer, our physical activity patterns changed. How we used each part of our bodies can have some detrimental effects:
- Did you wear different footwear? Walking with flip flops, sandals or shoes with poor support changes our posture and puts pressure on other areas. It can also be the cause of Achilles tendon pain.
- Walking bare feet on the beach or around the house feels good, but it can increase tension in the plantar fascia.
- Better weather and longer days tempt us to over-extend our bodies. Did you push yourself a bit too far? Over-exerting yourself, or simply being more active than in other seasons, creates more pressure.
- Trying a new sport or activity (tennis or gardening, for example) can lead to over-use of weak muscles; our bodies aren’t prepared for the new force in that area and the new expectations can strain lead to injuries in that place, or even other compensating parts of your body.
Nutritional health factors: digestion and absorption of nutrients can change
Eating habits are seasonal. Summer food is not always healthy and entering autumn we tend to ‘stock up’ on calorie-dense food. How does your body feel right now? How do you need it to feel? Be aware of the following:
- Increased alcohol intake? It’s easy to do on long summer days, socialising with friends or making the most of the pub garden. It’s also been a tough year, and we need to unwind and relax. However, increasing your alcohol unit intake is counterproductive: even small amounts can disrupt digestion and sleep patterns.
- Are you eating haphazardly or later than usual, especially on busy days? Did the food you choose change over summer? Eating larger portions and snacking with friends and family can mean we lose track of our consumption and a healthy diet.
- Restaurants and takeaways? With the removal of lockdown and being on the move again, many people have replaced home-prepared meals and fresh plant-based snacks for convenient but less healthy fast food.
- Have you been abroad, or have others cooked for you? Consuming different food types and introducing new flavours and ingredients means your body has to react differently. It takes time for your digestive system to adjust to each situation.
Mental health impact: summer is not guaranteed stress-free!
Summer was not free of tensions for many of us, and the change of season to shorter, cooler days can drag us down. Being open and honest about your current mental state now gives you time to plan to adjust to the new seasons:
- We really needed a break this year, especially after our long months of isolation. Did you have one? Do you feel more tired after your holiday before it?
- Like New Year, September carries expectations of fresh starts and knuckling down to new plans. But are you mentally ready to run on all cylinders?
- Did you reflect on some issues or thoughts in your summer ‘down time’? Do you feel anxiety about needing to change existing patterns of behaviour?
- Did you even have time to rest? Many people had no break or had to cancel plans which added to stress. We don’t like uncertainty, and not being sure when our next time out will occur adds to tension and tiredness.
- Even with a holiday, a break from the work routine may put pressure on families in a different way, including having un-met high expectations, or facing up to issues that have been pushed aside.
- Sometimes ideas don’t match reality. Perhaps your break was spoiled by travel issues, poor weather, unrealistic expectations, uncomfortable accommodation, or difficult company.
Don’t forget, the things on these lists can affect anyone, but they can also send negative signals to our brains and affect our health and wellbeing.
Be nice to yourself – now.
Cool it! Stay calm, take control… and recover
Now is a good time to treat your body to an overhaul, helping you adjust to the change in season and the months ahead.
Treat your body like you’d plan a holiday
Just like we plan a good holiday (research, booking tickets, packing essentials) we should organise in advance what our body requires to face what’s ahead and be at its best.
It’s good to prepare the whole body, offloading any stress and dealing with the accumulation of tension or ‘niggles’. People are sensitive to change, whether it’s good or bad. Many people get sick when they arrive on holiday, often because the body is experiencing a change of rhythm. Even if it’s a good thing overall, our body feels ‘disrupted’.
As we enter autumn, our rhythms will change again. Different foods, the effects of light change, falling temperatures – and potential new changes of work circumstances. The body is sensitive to changes. Our aim is to make them as smooth as possible, helping you build a toolbox of coping mechanisms. So, if you have uncomfortable symptoms, feel that you’re not firing on all cylinders – or simply want to prepare for the change in season – come in soon to rediscover your balance.