“Burnout” is a term often used to describe feelings of desperation, extreme stress, and the inability to continue with, or loss of interest in, scheduled activities. Sufferers of “holiday burnout” are often overwhelmed by the perceived extra demands and expectations associated with preparation for, and celebration of, the holiday season.
This comes from simply taking on too many responsibilities, either because of pressure from others or because of your own expectations. An overloaded social schedule combined with the demands of entertaining, gift shopping, decorating, and other holiday traditions can evoke panic especially in the most organized people.
As a recovering over-planner and perfectionist the days following Christmas were always the hardest for me. I pushed myself to purchase the most incredible and beautifully wrapped gifts for my friends and family, I made baked goods for each member of my 300+ person company, created elaborate multi-course meals, baked delicately decorated cookies and more. By the time the holiday came I was exhausted and unable to enjoy it. If you also suffer from this feeling of always being busy and never having a moment to connect with your family check out my blog post on 6 Ways You Can Take A Break from the Busy this Weekend.
When I found out I was pregnant after years of trying I was overjoyed but when I found out my due date was December 20th I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do everything I usually did during the holidays. At first I was a little disappointed but when I realized how much relief it gave me, I made a commitment to myself to never go back to the hustle.
I enjoy the holidays so much more now that I employ these strategies to avoid burnout:
Banish preconceived ideas about how the holiday season should be. This was incredibly difficult for me because I was so steeped in tradition, but it was so liberating. Think about your holiday traditions and try to separate those you truly enjoy from those you feel you must do because you’ve always done so or you are expected by others to do so. I found I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things just to impress people who really didn’t matter in the overall scheme of things.
Most people can’t do everything they wish they could do during the holidays, so you need to examine what is most important to you and let go of the rest. Take 15 to 20 minutes and make a list of what you’d like to do this season, then pare it down to what is most meaningful and important for you. Don’t send out holiday cards just because you are expected to. If you hate baking, don’t do it. Only attend holiday parties that are important to you or someone in your family, it is ok to say no. Here are 10 tips on how to prioritize this holiday season!
I need to say it three times because a common weakness among high-achievers is that they don’t delegate enough. They often do things better and faster than most people, so they are chronic do-it-yourselfers. However, doing everything yourself puts you on the fast track to burnout. So, especially during this hustling, bustling season, don’t be shy about delegating. Let someone else host the holiday meal, bring dishes or pick up a gift for you. Spend a little extra money to get your gifts wrapped. One of the items I learned that spending a little money every few weeks that ended up giving me more time to spend with my family is cleaning my house – during the holidays I increase the frequency and it completely reduces burnout. You could also hire someone to decorate your home or hang your Christmas lights.
I have definitely seen a huge amount of articles in recent years about the benefit of gifting gifts over experiences. My Facebook newsfeed is FULL of posts from people talking about this, but following it with pictures of their tree loaded with gifts underneath. We decided from my daughter’s first Christmas (she was 4 days old) we would only give her four physical gifts, something she wants, something she needs, something to wear and something to read. (We also do this for her half birthday that we celebrate in June.) Santa brings her additional gifts, but we will only give her four items. This greatly reduces the amount of items I have to wrap, and the amount of clutter in my house. We ask family to give her experiences they can do together, like tickets to a children’s theatre, passes to the zoo or a membership to a museum. I try to give my brothers tickets to a baseball game or concert we can all go to together. There are so many reasons to give your child an experience over a physical present I wrote a whole bog post about it that you can find here.
Obviously, I think a great gift for the whole family is a vacation. By combining your travel and gift budget you are able to take a longer or upgraded vacation. It will help your children realize that vacations are a gift and to not take them for granted. I love helping clients come up with creative ways to “wrap” their vacation either by curating items to put into a box, creating a fun scavenger hunt, or hiding puzzle pieces that when put together reveal the destination so they still have something fun and exciting on Christmas morning.
I have always struggled with the focus on material items during the holidays. There have been countless years where I found myself buying item after item as if that would prove to someone just how much I loved them. In reality, all it does it add to their amount of “stuff” and to my credit card debt. Remember that there are so many ways to show love and create the holiday spirit.
I know this holiday season is going to look so much different than in years past but the silver lining I think will be, really assessing what is important. What traditions did I miss? What did I feel relieved I didn’t have to do? Make a list so you can refer to it again next year when you are making your list of priorities.
This year I am committing to myself to focus on creating space to connect with the people who mean the most to me, not by giving them gifts but by doing something special together.
I understand how you’re feeling, I know all too well how easy it can be at the beginning to start researching online, just to find yourself 3 hours down the line more confused than when you started. But don’t panic! I can help you plan your dream Disney vacation without any of the stress of hassle – starting with the ‘A Disney Trip without Overwhelm, 5 Easy Steps’ Guide. These 5 steps will help keep you focused on organizing the best trip ever, while giving you peace of mind that everything will be done, and nothing will be left out.
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