There's A Totally Legit Reason You're Feeling Burned Out Over The Christmas Period
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After weeks of frantic online shopping and present wrapping, you've suddenly got aunts and uncles to entertain, cousins to make small talk with, all while maintaining permanent smile plastered across your face like Barbie in Toy Story 2.
Perhaps it's no surprise it can leave so many of us feeling burned out.
A recent poll of 2,000 adults in Britain found that meeting expectations of relatives, social commitments, and the pressure to pay for everything, leaves many feeling stressed and overwhelmed over the festive period..
Feelings of anxiety and exhaustion have been compounded by the pandemic, with four in 10 reporting pressure to make things extra special after almost two years of being home alone, according to the poll by Skipton Building Society.
Psychologist and PTSD, trauma and anxiety specialist Zoë Clews says she ‘consistently’ hears from clients who experience this type of anxiety during Christmas.
“It’s all about pressure,” Zoe tells Tyla. “There’s huge expectation that Christmas should be this wonderful, twinkly, magical time where we’re all living in a feelgood festive movie."
However, Zoe says this is rarely how the day normally goes. “Christmas is rarely perfect. We usually set our expectations too high, which leads to disappointment or resentment and before you know it, all that unprocessed emotion that families often have boils over."
On top of this, your family may be grappling with additional issues - such as divorce, grief or financial hardship - which could make it impossible to live up to the expectation of a perfect Christmas.
Even before the pandemic began, a 2019 study by YouGov found that around a quarter of the population said they found Christmas more stressful than any other time of the year.
But after the past 18 months, many of us are still acclimatising to being around large groups of people again.
"The festive season is already a struggle for the socially anxious, so add a pandemic and large numbers of people who are seriously out of social practice and you’ve got all the ingredients for a group situation that triggers social panic,” Zoe explains.
“And the effective cancellation of last Christmas automatically means this one really counts for a lot of people and – ta-da! – have instant pressure.”
Zoe notes that parents can particularly feel burned out because they try to give their children the perfect Christmas, which is 'impossible', and they end up neglecting their own needs.
“Parents think parental burnout is just a normal consequence of parenting, but it really isn’t. Yes, of course you need to put your children first – but you can’t pour from an empty cup. So, to give your kids a great Christmas, you need to look after yourself, too.”
How to avoid burnout this Christmas
- Step 1: Keep your expectations manageable
- Step 2: Remember Step 1
- Step 3: Set aside some time to be alone. We’re most at risk of burnout when we drain our social batteries
- Sometimes you really are the sanest person in the room, and the best company you can have – even if just for an hour or so every now and then to recharge and reset
- Step 4: Understand that your superpowers have their limits. So, it’s fine to leave that party early, or to check out of the evening binge of festive films to get an early night, or to not drink the extra glass of prosecco that you just know is going to kill any quality sleep.