What is festive burnout and how can it be prevented?

The festive period is upon us, but how can we stop ourselves from getting burnout? [Photo: Getty]
The festive period is upon us, but how can we stop ourselves from getting burnout? [Photo: Getty]

We’re a week into our advent calendars, Christmas adverts are filling the TVs and Fairytale Of New York is blaring from our radios at any given opportunity.

We’re knee-deep in the festivities, but we’re also swimming in to-do lists, Christmas gatherings and family obligations.

Enter festive burnout.

From 2020, burnout will be recognised globally as a medical condition, according to World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases.

But, how does the feeling of intense exhaustion differ around the Christmas period? And, what can we do to cut it off in its stride?

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At this time of year it’s easy to feel flat, with a low-mood only perpetuated by the lack of sunlight and a seemingly never-ending list of activities.

“Shall we do something at Christmas?” we hear our hopeful selves say in September, boosted by the vitamin D of a long summer and feeling uncharacteristically sociable.

When December comes a’knocking, these plans start to materialise into an impending feeling of dread. Dinners, drinks, festive afternoon tea, visits to the Christmas markets, it all sounds great until we need to be in five places at once.

It’s easy, then, to see how festive burnout can take hold, leaving us feeling devoid of any joy around what is marketed to us as the most joyful time of the year.

Luckily, there are a few ways to stop festive burnout spreading Christmas dread. Life and performance coach, Raghav Parkash, specialises in preventing burnout and talks us through some of the ways to manage it.

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Reach out to a loved one or ask for help

It might seem like simple advice, but around this time of year we have a tendency to take on everything.

“You will be surprised by the number of people that would be very willing to help you and support you if you are struggling with the workload.” Raghav suggests.

It works both ways, too. If you aren’t feeling the festive strain, somebody else might be.

“It might just be a good idea to turn around to one of your colleagues or family member and check in with them and tell them how are you feeling to see if there’s anything they can do, suggest or recommend.”

Prioritise time for balance and self care

“With the number of things we feel we need to handle over the festive period self-care often gets lost. As a result this leads us to feeling overstretched, overworked, losing sleep and not doing the things we love.”

Since many of us have time off over Christmas, it’s important to nurture ourselves so we feel refreshed come the New Year.

Raghav suggests slotting daily activities that you enjoy into your to-do lists this Christmas.

Set boundaries

“An easy way to prevent burnout and over-stretching ourselves is to evaluate priorities and see if there are any activities that you could eliminate if they are not essential or if you could ask for external support or even push back on for now.”

“A great way of doing this is to work day by day and when you starting your day, map out the key things and priorities you would like to accomplish and ask yourself if there’s anything on your list that is not essential. This will then create more time for you to focus on the things that really matter.”

The life coach is a big believer in focusing on what really matters, so remember that if you can’t fit in something, say no in the moment and move on. Don’t say yes only to be racked with both guilt and anxiety as the time approaches.

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Make sure you have enough sleep and rest

Lack of sleep can cause a number of physical health risks, but it can also be problematic for our stress levels. Raghav believes it’s important not to “run on an empty tank”.

“It may be very helpful exercise during this time to ask yourself how many hours of sleep you need every night and then do your very best to make sure you can achieve that and also your rest time and sleep time is prioritised around everything else.”

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