Festive burnout and boundaries – how to have a ‘slow Christmas’
MANCHESTER, UK 22nd December 2022 – All I want for Christmas is … a chance to slow down.
Christmas can be a magical time of year, but the festive season can also leave us frazzled.
YouGov reported that 2 in 5 people felt stressed by the festive season in 2019 and this year, according to Ipsos, 55% of people surveyed are on average are even more stressed.
This year, we are deserving of a relaxed Christmas more than ever before. ‘Permacrisis’ – a period of constant struggle – has become the word of 2022. With that in mind, it’s likely we’re counting down to the big day feeling more drained and less resilient than usual.
The hashtag #SlowChristmas has been gathering pace on Instagram and TikTok, and you can see why people are wanting to embrace a slower pace.
The Pinterest-worthy, Scandi inspired, hygge Christmases that we see floating around the internet might sound dreamy, but how can you actually embrace a ‘Slow Christmas’?
How to recognise if you’re going into the festive season with burnout
This is such an important part of the puzzle because if you’re burnt out, you’re going to need to slow down but it’ll probably feel really hard to do: the second of the twelve stages of burnout is having an inability to switch off.
The common signs of burnout to look out for are: fatigue, poor immune function, feeling defeated, having a cynical outlook, procrastinating and feeling overwhelmed. If you’re noticing any of these, know you’re not alone. According to research by Westfield Health, 46% of people in the UK workforce are experiencing burnout. It might feel like Christmas is just another thing on your to-do list but it could be the perfect time for rest and rejuvenation.
So how can you have a slower Christmas if you’re burnt out?
● Release expectations – allow yourself to acknowledge that you simply cannot do it all. I promise you don’t need five trees, a light show and the best Christmas party in the village!
● Make time for rest – I know you’ll have more plates spinning than a circus performer, but you only have a finite amount of energy (no matter how many espresso martinis you down.). For your body and mind to recover, you’re going to need some rest.
● Make time to eat nourishing foods – burnout is physiological. Your body needs to physically repair itself, so a platter of beige probably won’t cut it! Try to add some greenery to the beige and some glasses of water between the mulled wine.
Create boundaries that feel good
You know that family member that makes you feel like you’d rather eat a plate of soggy sprouts? They’re the reason you need to create some boundaries.
There’s a bit of a cultural thing here in the UK that setting boundaries is selfish and that we should just put up and shut up. This is nonsense; setting boundaries doesn’t mean saying no.
Maintaining healthy emotional and energetic boundaries allows us to create a safe space for ourselves. Our nervous system feeds on these boundaries, creating oxytocin and dopamine when we adhere to these rules.
● Decide what you’re comfortable with. What are you comfortable talking about? Who are you comfortable with? How much time can you spend with certain people? These are your boundaries! They’re definitely not as complex as people make them out to be.
● Once you’ve decided what these boundaries are, think up a couple of ways that you can express them to people. For instance, if one of your boundaries is around feeling comfortable eating intuitively and you have an auntie twice removed who is a bit obsessed with diet culture, you might gently say that you’re not comfortable with talking about diets or move the conversation to a different topic.
Notice when comparison is sneaking up on you!
We’ve all been there, scrolling Instagram and spotting the most beautiful tree ever then looking over to our own and going “Why doesn’t my tree look like that?!” Sound familiar? Comparison really is the thief of joy!
Logically, we know that for every picture on social media there are hundreds that didn’t make the cut. Yet comparisons keep rearing their ugly heads.
So what can we do about it?
● Notice it – notice that you’re in a bit of a comparison spiral and pause. By noticing that you’re in this spiral, you’re giving yourself a safe space to acknowledge those feelings of not being good enough.
● Now when you notice those feelings of ‘not good enough’, we’re not going to wallow – we’re going to recognise why we feel inferior. Perhaps they’ve got a bigger tree than you or maybe they’re going out to all of the most amazing places.
● Once we’ve noticed why, we’re going to do a little fact check. Our thoughts are rarely facts and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of this.
So recognise the thoughts that you’re having. Is it true that a celebrity superstar is having the best Christmas ever, or are they presenting this image which is heavily censored and far from the truth?
Taking time in your festive celebrations to nurture your frazzled nervous system means that you’ll be able to enjoy all of those wonderful moments a little bit more.
Why not try sitting with your morning coffee and actually noticing the steam rising from it? Or putting some music on whilst you’re stuck in traffic and having a good sing along?
Breathe a little bit deeper, gain some clarity and focus on the true meaning of Christmas: a celebration for all. Why not celebrate you and take some time to slow down? You know you deserve it.
With a decade of experience as a teacher and mentor, Beth was no stranger to burnout. After a burnout-induced breakdown in 2019, she trained in yoga and pranayama, alongside meditation and life coaching to support others experiencing the same.
Her background in educational research has resulted in a research-driven, pragmatic approach to wellness. Allowing her to specialise in helping time-poor, burnt-out humans to realign with their values so they can create sustainable practices to nurture and heal their burnt out nervous system.