Are you at risk of Christmas burnout?

I was recently quoted in The Independent on how to avoid mental exhaustion and physical overwhelm in the run-up to the holidays.

This can be particularly challenging when you find yourself juggling too many invitations from friends and family – all of whom expect you to turn up and be the life and soul of the party.

So, do you accept another invitation even though all you want is a quiet night at home for some long-overdue rest and recuperation?

 Find out how you can make sure you get to the 25th of December avoiding Christmas mental melt-down or the drag of catching a cold due to a weakened immune system. 

The combination of winter’s cold weather together with the natural, seasonal inclination to hibernate means it’s easy to over-commit yourself socially in the run-up to Christmas. An endless cycle of late nights means by the time the holiday rolls around you feel mentally exhausted, burnt-out or full of the dreaded lurgy.

The holiday season is the equivalent of a social marathon. It takes a clear strategy and a commitment to your self-care so as not to feel mentally exhausted before the holiday begins.

 This is why it’s important to practice saying ‘no’.

Those with people-pleasing personality traits struggle the most

Many people find themselves under pressure at this time of year to socialise more than they want to. It can feel challenging to balance emotional wellbeing with potentially letting people down. Only those who have developed a healthy sense of self tend to manoeuvre these demands without feeling guilt.

Those with a ‘People pleaser’ personality-type find it hardest to say no to requests from other people. 

People pleasers enjoy being popular and in-demand socially. However, they are more likely to have poorly defined boundaries around their wellbeing than those who put their own needs first. Often people-pleasers intend to pace themselves but they are easily swayed by social pressure to be part of yet another late night out.

Learning to say no is a crucial skill to protect your mental wellbeing and it’s a skill anyone can learn.

Practice saying ‘no

Think of the ability to say ‘no’ as similar to flexing a muscle. The more you work a muscle the stronger that muscle becomes and the more effortless it feels to do the heavy lifting in the gym. 

Ideally, start by practising your ability to say ‘no’ with insignificant decisions. To build the strength of your ‘no’ practice increasing its power in incremental steps. Say no to another coffee at work or no to another drink in a bar. Try practising saying no anytime you have an opportunity to choose between a yes or no response.

Every time you say no is a victory that is strengthening your ‘no’ reflex and you need to acknowledge it in your mind with a virtual pat on the back. Very soon you’ll have an Olympic strength ‘no’ to use to your advantage.

Check your boundaries

People who struggle to maintain boundaries to protect their mental health are often impetuous. They comply with other people’s requests without considering the consequences for themselves. This leaves them vulnerable to burnout and exhaustion. It can also mean they spend more money socialising than they can afford. Adding money worries simply piles on more pressure and anxiety.

Make a rule that you don’t immediately say yes to any invitation. Where applicable respond that you need to check your diary and get back to them. Or, at the very least take a breath to enable you to pause before answering. Give yourself the chance to work out if their invitation is something you’re happy to say yes to, or if you just feel pressured.

You can use the Marie Kondo method to declutter your social life

Ms Kondo is a famous lifestyle guru known for her successful method of de-cluttering homes. She encourages people to re-assess their possessions by holding them one at a time for a moment to decide whether the item ‘Sparks joy” or not. 

Now imagine doing that with your office party invite vs your dart’s team night out and only agree to either invitation if you are sure the event has the potential to ‘Spark joy”.

If you’re not feeling it you can use the stuck record technique to gently, firmly and kindly say “I’d love to be there, but I just can’t”. 

If they try to pressure you to attend just repeat your version of the stuck record phrase in a gentle, firm and kind way without any further discussion until they give up and let you be. 

Save ‘yes’ for socialising that works for you and ensures your mental health. And, remember saying ‘no’ isn’t just for Christmas.

You can read my contribution here to journalist Olivia Petter’s feature in The Independent on Christmas burnout strategies. http://bit.ly/368s8Yj

Boundaries that protect your mental health are not just for Christmas.

Are you someone who puts other people’s needs above your own? If you are then you may benefit from creating and maintaining some healthier boundaries for yourself.

If you feel you need help to pri0oritise your emotional needs without feelings of guilt or shame then you can arrange an obligation free discovery call via the link on this page with Sally Baker.

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