There is something magical about the year-end. It comes with a feeling of accomplishment and completion. It’s an opportunity to look back and reflect on how far you’ve come while making concrete plans for life’s next exciting chapter.
But Christmas is also a time when everything ramps up. Deadlines multiply and are pushed forward, coffee catch-ups and nights out with friends fill the calendar, and there’s an overwhelming pressure to get everything done by December 25th.
If the Christmas countdown often leaves you feeling overwhelmed, overstretched and running on empty, you’re certainly not alone. Statistics show that the season can be a source of great stress for many people – particularly women – and increasing workloads, financial constraints, and the pressure to have the perfect Christmas are just some of the common stressors.
But help is at hand, whether you’re crumbling under the pressure at work or can’t cope with another social engagement, we are here to guide you on how to get through the festive season by avoiding the Christmas burnout.
How To Avoid Christmas Burnout
Write everything down
And we mean everything… that hair appointment you’ve squeezed in, the last-minute shopping trip, that looming deadline.
Planning in this way is scientifically proven to reduce stress. It’s a process known as ‘proactive coping’. When we schedule events that we perceive as being potentially stressful, it can actually trigger feelings of anticipation instead of overwhelm.
And guess what happens next? The anticipation of the event, be it a work meeting or a big deadline, can spark increased productivity and performance that can make it more likely you’ll achieve your goals – and all you did was write it down and make it happen.
Control the Controllables
When you’re burned out and overwhelmed it can feel like so much is outside of your control. It’s as if you’re one wrong move away from smashing one of those spinning plates.
The secret to staying cool, calm, and collected this December? Looking after the basics: that means getting plenty of sleep, nourishing yourself with food and water, and making sure to move your body.
This may feel like another bullet point on the never-ending to-do list? But these 'prep steps' will make all those other daily tasks and actions easier to do.
For example; water is scientifically proven to improve focus, alertness, and concentration while boosting your mood and cognitive function. Meanwhile, nourishing your body with nutrient-rich foods is shown to impact the brain at a psychological level, prompting positive changes in the way we think and behave.
Want to stay on top of your food and water goals? Our Daily Drench water bottle and Nourish Meal Planner will set you up for success. Fill your 1 litre bottle and remember to sip at it at regular intervals throughout the day (we have motivational reminders on the bottle if you need it) and pack your day with nutritious meals that power you to perform at your best.
Put rituals in place
“We do not rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.” That’s a quote from Atomic Habits author James Clear and he’s making an important point about how the habits and rituals we put in place determine whether we succeed or fail.
Daily rituals are the activities that allow you to bring your best self to each and every day. It could be writing in your Gratitude Journal, starting the morning with meditation, or repeating affirmations. You get to decide what activities allow you to perform at your best – and it’s up to you to make the time for them on a daily basis this December.
When you prioritise your wellbeing in this way, it can sharpen your mindset, protect your energy, and give you a healthy dose of perspective that ensures you can deal with stress in a more positive way.
Learn to say No
No. The word has just two letters, but it’s loaded with negative connotations and saying it often comes with a side order of guilt, shame and embarrassment. After all, none of us likes to feel like we’re letting others down. But here’s the thing: when we say yes when we really want to say no, what we’re really saying is ‘my time and energy don’t matter’.
But your time and energy do matter and if you don’t prioritise them nobody else will. That’s why it’s time to get comfortable with saying the word no. You’ll institutively know when you don’t want to do something. You’ll feel the sensations in your body. Tune in to that feeling – and remember that when you get another Christmas party invite or need to pick up another task at work, you don’t have to respond immediately.
If ‘no’ gives you a serious case of the ‘fear’ try practising on your friends and family first. You might feel more comfortable adding an explanation too. If that’s the case, try phrases like:
- “I’m so sorry, I don’t feel comfortable in large groups of people right now.”
- “That sounds lovely, but I have a lot on my plate at the moment and want to preserve my energy.”
- “I’d love to help, but I’m feeling very overstretched right now.”
- “I won’t be able to make it, I need some time to rest and recuperate.”
Be Gentle With Yourself
Sometimes anticipating burnout and overwhelm can be the result of not having faith in yourself; you may look at your list of to-dos and wrongly believe there’s no way you could get it all done.
If this is the case, we want you to remember that you’re more than capable and to keep Karen Salmansohn’s words in mind. She says, “You have dealt with so much and done the best that you can, take a moment now to appreciate how strong you are.”
While we’re on the topic, there’s no shame in relieving yourself of some commitments. You can’t – and shouldn’t attempt – to do it all. In fact, sometimes being unproductive is the most productive thing you can do, so when the Christmas lead up feels hectic, give yourself permission to rest.
‘Tis the season to be your best self…
Every Christmas people around the world put up a tree in their homes. They take great care putting pretty ornaments on the tree, untangling twinkling lights, and placing a shiny gold star on the top of the tree. But as life ramps up on December 1st, do you take such good care of yourself?
Just like that Christmas tree, our schedules in the lead up to Christmas inevitably come with a few extra embellishments and they can be a source of stress instead of celebration. But remember this, you’ve made it through a full year of ups and downs, navigated nearly 12 months of trials and tribulations and come out the other end the better for it.
There are just a few extra weeks standing between you and the year’s end and just like you’ve survived everything the previous 11 months have had to offer, you’ll make it through this moment too.