How to avoid holiday season overwhelm

Welcome to December. ’Tis the time for holiday season overwhelm.

If you’re feeling like you’re barely holding it together right now you’re definitely not alone. Overwhelm lives in my house alongside the overflowing piles of washing, the sticky counter tops and the constant grit underfoot (that despite vacuuming never seems to disappear entirely). 

The overwhelm follows me throughout December as I run from end of year school functions, to Christmas drinks and last minute shopping. I feel it in my belly alongside those extra glasses of champagne and one too many cups of coffee.  

It’s my favourite time of year, and yet it can also feel like the hardest season to get through. 

I read a meme the other day about how the “magic of Christmas” is actually just your Mum. And I felt that in my bones (my bone-tired-bones that is).

Santa = your Mum.

Delicious Christmas food = Mum.

Christmas decorations = most likely also your Mum.

Christmas presents for everyone, including those people we only see at Christmas = bought by Mum

Remembering to move the damn elf = a Mum who has already been in bed for half an hour and only ever remembers just as she starts to drift off to sleep. (PS. Why the heck did we do that “tradition” to ourselves?!).

If the magic of this seasons depends on US, than we better be damn sure we actually make it to Christmas and don’t burn out from holiday season overwhelm. Let’s talk about how to make it through the season without burning out, shall we?

holiday season overwhelm

How to avoid holiday season overwhelm

Say NO. 

I used to say yes to every social invitation. End of year Mum drinks. Yes. Street Party. Yes. Work Christmas party. Yes. Kids end of year parties. One. Two. AND Three. Yes. Catch ups with friends I inevitably only see at Christmas. Why the heck not?

Then I’d wonder why I couldn’t move between Christmas and New Years. 

Now, I only say yes to the events I’m really looking forward to and not those I feel like I’m dragging myself to just for the sake of it.  (Or those that my kids are super excited for. I have to admit, there are still some that I’m dragging my feet to while my boys are running full steam ahead.)

Take mini-breaks

While I wish we could just skip every social event we didn’t feel like going to, sometimes you won’t be able to say no. If you can’t skip the event entirely, try taking mini-breaks within it. Can you sneak off after lunch for a nap? (Babies and toddlers who need a midday nap are an excellent cover story for this).

Organise an afternoon walk after the meal (alone or with your favourite couple of people who are also keen to break away from the main group).

If you can only spare 5 minutes (before people will start wondering what’s wrong), lock yourself in a private space and do a quick five minute meditation. You’ll come back to the group feeling more centred and less triggered by all the things.

Plan rest days to avoid holiday season overwhelm

When planning your December calendar, schedule rest days in-between social commitments and do not let anyone (including yourself) talk you into booking things on those days. Depending on the event you might even need a couple of days rest in between.

I find certain events more draining than others and I definitely need more time to recover after big gatherings or when socialising with people I don’t know too well. It’s like my social battery drains faster when I have to make an effort with new-ish people.

Try to do this in November before you get on the holiday-merry-go-round, rather than waiting until you’re ready to crawl into a cave and talk to no one for a whole month. (Just me?)

Be intentional about how you rest

Look, I’m not going to judge you for how you rest. Only you can know what works for you. But I want you to be intentional about how you spend those rest days. Will binge-ing every episode on Netflix really make you feel rested or do you need something more?

Rest days in this busy season need to include a few things for me to feel good about returning to the world of socialising. Good food. Lots of downtime. Sunshine.

In the season of rum balls and a few too many glasses of wine; I make sure my rest days include lots of normal, everyday healthy food. Protein. Water. Fresh fruit and veggies. Keep it simple though. BBQs and salads are the way we get through over here in Australia. But if you’re in a cold part of the world right now, pre-prepared stews and warm roast veggies are probably the way to go.

Downtime for me at this time of the year looks like lots of reading (preferably in the sunshine), swimming, slow yoga, walks, watching Christmas movies with my boys, and doing my best to ignore the list of Christmas presents I still need to buy.

Don’t take it all so seriously

I know. It’s the happiest time of year. It’s your job to make it “magical.” But it’s also the end of another big year (are years ever small?). You’ve given everything all year and you too deserve a break.

Do you know it’s in your power to give yourself one?

Lower your standards. Stop trying to bake everything from scratch. Pick one holiday tradition instead of trying to do them all. Stop letting yourself be triggered by everyone else and look after yourself. Take the pressure off your shoulders alone and ask for help. Laugh at the ridiculousness of the season rather than getting all wound up about it.

Put your energy into actually enjoying this season yourself, rather than worrying about everyone else. You matter too. Holiday season overwhelm = cranky Mum = no one is having a good time.

What next to avoid holiday season overwhelm?

  1. Practice this yoga class for holiday season overwhelm.

2. Take a nap. You deserve it. x

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