A toy car with a Christmas tree on top

Enjoying Holidays Without the Stress Overload

I was standing at the counter at David Jones, my arms about to collapse with all the Xmas presents I am holding, and a women is arguing ahead of me with the customer assistant, insisting her items are returned despite no proof of purchase. Right behind me, a man is waiting, and I can see his leg jiggling with impatience. I am stressed too, though I try to hide it. My thoughts are racing, “how am I going to get to work on time? Gosh I wish David Jones did wrapping! Damn, I need to buy wrapping paper!” I ponder why we are all so stressed, and conclude that ordinarily, on any typical week of the year we are already so busy, but then add in a bunch of social events, Christmas buying obligations and an apparent smile even if we are sick and tired, and there you have it: a recipe for Burn Out.

This time of year can be exciting and magical, but it can also be daunting, stressful and overwhelming. To keep this festive season as enjoyable and stress-free as possible, read on for some holiday season self-care!

Here are 6 Tips for Managing Holiday Burn Out:

1. Validate ALL of the Emotions.

Firstly, can we please just acknowledge that this time of year is often crazy busy, which means that it isn’t always enjoyable. I think sometimes we can become overwhelmed by the pressure to maintain holiday cheer, often invalidating just how hard it can be. Please have fun and be merry, whilst also giving yourself permission to have other feelings and emotions.

2. Create a Schedule.

This one might sound simple, but if you are anything like me, the risk of double-booking yourself or stretching yourself too thin due to overscheduling is very real. So, get your calendar out and pop in all the events and jobs you want to get done for December. If you are living with others, it can be useful to cross-reference with their schedules to ensure any dependents are considered. Stress can build up even with a schedule jam-packed full of exciting things.

3. Reflect and Prioritise.

Review your schedule and take some time to prioritise your to-do list. Firstly, take a step back, and ask yourself, ‘is this realistic? Do I need to complete this job, or will that event really bring me joy? How am I going to feel after each day/week? It can be useful to break down your to-do list into classifications, such as ‘important/urgent’, ‘can be delayed’, ‘can be delegated’, or ‘can be removed’. It is okay to say no or to ask for help in service of self-care! If you tend to be a ‘people pleaser‘ and struggle to say no, be mindful of this tendency and consider what little things you can say no to.

4. Adjust your Expectations.

If you have a propensity for high expectations, this season can really kick things into overdrive, leading to burnout. Try to hold in mind that your December doesn’t need to be perfect, nor does it need to be exactly what other people are doing or expect you to do. Try to catch any unhelpful comparisons to others who seem to have it all together and remember that everyone’s situation is different.

5. Be Present.

In the holiday hustle and bustle, it can be very easy to slip into autopilot or frantically race between tasks. Try to be present with whatever it is that you are doing, shopping, eating, talking, or even just breathing. Slow down, pay attention to your body and your environment, and let go of judgments, for a couple of minutes each day.

6. Keep some Routine.

With all the additional holiday activities, there is no doubt that your regular routine will be shaken up a bit. Try to keep some non-negotiables for self-care going throughout December, whether that’s your exercise, psychology appointments, bedtime routines, meal prepping, journalling, yoga, or meditation. Whatever helps you with a sense of stability and containment during a demanding time.

Click here for more ideas on how to manage holiday stress, and the Better Health Channel also has some great tips here. Stay safe and look after yourself and each other this holiday season!