One in three Americans are suffering from what experts have coined “Festive Holiday Burnout.” A recent study surveyed 2,000 Americans, and 68% said they see Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas as high stress times. One third of those surveyed said they burned out before Christmas comes. The survey also revealed that most stress comes from the crowds and shopping. Compound this with excessive baking, shipping, decorating, and hosting, and you have the perfect recipe for irritability, frustration, stress, anger, and, of course, burnout.
The holidays are a time for gathering family and friends. Is it possible to be joyful and have fun when you feel frazzled and hurried to make Christmas magical? You must give yourself permission to focus more on enjoying the holidays instead of trying to control them or make them more special. Psychologists warn clients that this is a stressful time of year. Non-stop giving and charitable acts cannot last if you don’t take time to relax, share duties and focus on the reason you’re celebrating. Here are suggestions of how you can avoid holiday burnout and enjoy the festivities.
Readjust your expectations. You may have memories of your parents creating a Christmas wonderland and feel obligated to create the same for your family. However, the parts we don’t remember are mom taking time to watch her favorite holiday show or dad taking a walk by himself in the evening. Your parents were managing their stress in healthy ways. You may have been bored at times, but you only remember the magic of it. Not every moment of the holidays has to be special. Don’t put that pressure on yourself.
Take short-cuts when you can. You don’t need the perfect tree, gifts, or feast. Grocery stores make great breads and pastries which will give you more time to take a nap or exercise break.
Share the load and cooperate. Health care providers warn us that women are especially stressed during the holidays. Everyone wants Christmas to be magical, but the person creating the magic is usually the mom, wife, or girlfriend. Women try to do it all – including cooking, cleaning, decorating, organizing, and even buying their child’s teachers gifts. Men should not need to be asked to share the load of work. Hosting and preparing for the holidays requires the whole family to get involved. It’s never too early to assign chores to the children; kids that grow up doing chores feel better about themselves and their purpose.
Take time alone away from the festivities. Couples can take turns giving each other alone time. Being on your own to read, write, exercise, listen to music, pray, or think is an essential part of managing holiday stress.
Make time for your relationship. Christmas is magical for children, but it is special for couples too. So much of your festivities will surround children’s events, which is even more of a reason to make time for you and your spouse. Tuck the kids into bed early during the week before Christmas and enjoy your holiday decorations with each other. These little moments will boost your resistance to holiday burnout.
Suffering from holiday burnout has a lot to do with the messages we tell ourselves about what the holidays mean. If you think of it as something you have to do with perfection, you’ll end up feeling stressed and imperfect. It’s better to focus on enjoying the holidays; embrace the craziness and celebrate by allowing yourself time to enjoy this wonderful time of the year.