The idea of the looming Christmas holiday season often fills already busy women with feelings of dread and despair.
While the holidays promise much needed time out from busy schedules, a study in the USA commissioned by Slumber Cloud revealed that one in three adults suffer from “holiday burnout”.
It is the same story in the UK, with a survey by Bounce Back Drinks reporting more than four in ten people are run down with the extra workload, and 35 per cent citing the extra planning and entertaining as a drain on their energy levels.
Festive burnout is a real and increasingly common phenomenon. For the busy woman who struggles to switch off, always works on holidays and considers taking just five minutes for themselves as a luxury, she is likely to approach Christmas the same way.
It all comes down to our own ingrained expectations. We unknowingly hold on to outdated ideals that may not serve us any longer. We often feel we have to put up with strained family dinners, buying gifts for the sake of it and pretend we are happy and joyful when really, we are lonely and exhausted.
For many women who feel this way, Christmas can be one of the loneliest times of the year. This is not to say they’ve turned into the Grinch, it’s just that when the extra pressure (perceived or otherwise) of the festive season hits, and the expectations for ‘being merry’ are there, it can magnify exhaustion and a sense of isolation.
Making a deliberate choice to nurture yourself this holiday season is the perfect way to avoid burnout and revive your Christmas spirit.
Here are some simple things you can avoid and some healthy habits you can nurture to avoid festive burnout:
Avoid draining your batteries dry
We are made of organic living matter. We are not ‘Eveready’ batteries.
We each have a set amount of energy to spend each day. Once that energy has been used up, we resort to quick fixes like coffee, alcohol and junk food that only create more debits to our energy account.
Get ahead of that afternoon slump with lemon water or pure celery juice for a sharp mind and fuel up on bananas, apples and dates for a natural sugar hit.
Avoid feeling guilty for not living up to expectations
When we feel guilty or worry about what people may think or even events that may not even happen, we trigger our stress response.
Research from the Medical College of Georgia shows that this causes “wear and tear” on our body and our adrenal systems over time, increasing the risk of illness.
Let go of expectations and self-judgement, and accept that you feel the way you feel and that’s okay.
Avoid high-performance burnout
A US study at the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence revealed that high achievers suffer more from burnout due to the high demands these individuals place on themselves.
The key here is to practise kindness. Just as you would extend kindness and understanding to a colleague or friend, try extending that to yourself and take the pressure off.
Nurture having child-like fun
According to Dr Matt Bellace at Lynn University in Florida, laughter releases the happy chemical dopamine in our brain, which helps us kick goals and stay motivated. It also boosts our immunity, is a natural stress reliever, reduces anxiety, and improves our mood.
Maybe check out the local laughter club in your area for a fun way to let your inner child shine.
Nurture being still and calm
Take five minutes a day just for you to recharge, reboot and refresh your perspective for a healthier, fitter and more relaxed festive season.
This is not about sitting cross legged and chanting “om”. Even five minutes of walking slowly in nature (like the garden or the beach) where you allow the breeze to blow away all your thoughts can be like a powernap for your nervous system.
Try putting your feet in the ocean, take a deep breath in and as you breathe out intend to send all exhausted energy out of your feet and into the water.
Nurture connecting to your wise inner self
You’re no Christmas elf. You have earned the right to slow down and connect with your wiser inner self, who knows instinctively to set the bar at a more achievable level.
You are wise beyond your imagination, and if you water your inner wisdom, you’ll be amazed at how time spent ‘non-thinking’ is actually your most insightful.