We’re probably all familiar with a slump in mood during the Christmas holidays, but did you know Christmas fatigue and the January doldrums are actual real things, driven by hormones? The highs and lows of Christmas preparation, anticipation and participation generate powerful hormones which play an important part in mood and can suppress our immune system. Being tired can affect our confidence, happiness, perspective and ability to focus. Help your children (and yourself) avoid Christmas fatigue and the impending January doldrums to arrive back at school focused and ready for a positive start to the New Year.
1. Keep gently busy
- Involve the children in planning, preparing and clearing up after family get-togethers. They’ll feel useful and enjoy working together.
- Ask the kids to organise a family film afternoon – choose the film, agree a time, arrange the room and prepare snacks.
- Build a fort, rocket or pellet-shooting robot out of discarded packaging.
- Ask the children to pick out a couple of toys and books they no longer use (as they make room for their new presents) and take them to the local charity shop.
- For more inspiration, take a look at the fun activity ideas on our Christmas activity pages.
2. Have a rest
Don’t shy away from a quick power nap during the festive season! Even if your children left afternoon naps behind years ago, some quiet time on their beds with a comic, puzzle or book (no screens) can help rebalance energy levels after a string of late nights. Curling up with the kids and a good book can feel like a real treat.
3. Get moving
Even just five minutes outside in the garden, doing the recycling, or going to the corner shop or feeding the birds each morning can have a positive impact on energy levels. Follow up with 30 minutes gentle exercise (a walk, scavenger hunt or run) later in the day to release those feel-good endorphins that improve your mood.
4. Get out and get exploring
There are lots of free outdoor activities you can do – organise a scavenger hunt, take a walk through the park, woods or along the beach. Many local libraries and museums will host events or trails for children over the Christmas holidays.
5. Organise some family fun
- Get tickets for the pantomime – shout and sing – there’s nothing like a bit of audience participation to raise energy levels!
- Go ice skating or bowling. Whatever your collective level of skill, all children seem to love sliding around, attempting to knock things over and a bit of team spirit!
- Go swimming – it’s more than likely you’ll have more space to play than usual.
- Have a family game of consequences to inspire creativity and humour.
6. Other golden rules to avoid fatigue
- Keep hydrated. It can be difficult, but make sure everyone’s drinking water through the day.
- Get some fresh air – feed the ducks, run an errand.
- Eat breakfast. Try to include protein in the form of milk, eggs or yoghurt.
- Keep regular sleep patterns – try not to let the kids have more than a couple of really late nights in a row.
- Have a really, really good stretch!