Rather than immediately getting back into high-intensity workouts, filling up your social calendar, or pushing yourself to the limit at work, for example, Dr. Peifer recommends prioritizing restorative activities, if and when you can. That might look like giving mindfulness exercises a shot, practicing some gentle stretching, or, my personal preference, camping out on the couch (or bed) and letting yourself stream show after show for a night (or two or three).
If you have to work when you return home, she also suggests leaving the visit a day early (or taking a day off) if possible—that way, you’ll have some downtime before you have to get back to business. Basically, the goal is to “give your body and mind some space to process and restore,” she says.
Start re-establishing your routines.
Holiday weekends tend to throw off the routines you’re accustomed to, Dr. Peifer says. When you’re hosting your in-laws or spending time with your grandparents, for example, you likely aren’t sticking to your typical sleep-wake schedule or doing the daily activities (like making your go-to weekday breakfast) that usually keep you in balance. When this rhythm is thrown off, your mood and energy levels can take a hit, she explains.
Once you’ve (hopefully) been able to rest a little, Dr. Peifer recommends trying, bit by bit, to get back into your routines. Start with the basics: Eat your regular diet, stick to your normal bedtime, take a nice relaxing shower or bath. This will add structure to your day, she says, which can help you feel calmer and more in control (the opposite of how you felt around your family, perhaps). Next, you can add secondary behaviors, like your typical social activities, exercise schedule, or work or study habits, she adds.
Established routines don’t require much effort, thought, or decision-making, which is why they ultimately help preserve—and restore—your energy, according to Dr. Peifer (and research). In short, they make day-to-day tasks less exhausting, which can be incredibly helpful when you’re already feeling run down from family jet lag.
Think about the boundaries you might need to set moving forward.
Family-gathering season is just starting to ramp up—after Thanksgiving, we’ve got the December holidays (like Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa) and then the grand finale: New Year’s. If you have more plans coming up, now’s a great time to think about setting boundaries, Dr. Peifer says.