10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Burnout

Holiday burnout: We always say we won’t let it happen to us another year, yet every year, we find ourselves worn out. 

Holiday burnout is a real thing, with 1 in 3 Americans experiencing it by mid-December.¹ 

Consider the following results from a survey by JoyOrganics:²

  • 88% of Americans feel the holiday season is the most stressful time of year.
  • 47% of respondents admit they usually take on more than they can handle each year.
  • 59% characterized their typical holiday season as “chaotic.”

The survey also found that many people would rather wait in line at the DMV than deal with the holidays! 

If this sounds familiar, you are clearly not alone.

Instead of simply anticipating chaos this season, use these 10 tips to avoid holiday burnout. 

#1 Lower Your Expectations

holiday burnout

Much of holiday burnout comes from doing way too much. We do way too much is because we set our expectations too high. 

We picture our holidays looking like Hallmark Christmas movies, the picture-perfect photos we see on Instagram, and the beautiful crafts shared on Pinterest.

The problem is we craft our holidays in our minds based on carefully curated and produced images – not real life.

Keep this in mind as we head into the holiday season and lower your expectations. Be realistic about what you can and cannot handle.

#2 Plan Ahead

holiday burnout

Now is the time to pull out your calendar and start planning. Write down every holiday event coming up, such as kid’s school concerts, parties, etc. 

Then, highlight the events that are must-dos. 

Plan your other holiday activities around these mandatory events.

Doing this will prevent you from overscheduling yourself and suffering holiday burnout.

TIP – When you find out about new events or are invited to additional parties, check your calendar before committing. It’s also an easy way to get out of something you don’t want to do. Simply say, “I’ll have to check my calendar and get back to you.” Then, after checking, you can say, “Sorry, I can’t.”

#3 Shop from Home

holiday burnout

Procrastination leads to holiday burnout, so get your holiday shopping done early.

Even better – instead of dealing with the frantic crowds in the stores, shop online from the comfort of your own home.

If you do it ahead of time, you don’t have to worry about gifts not arriving by Christmas. Plus, you can even save money on shipping by shipping items directly to the store.

#4 Cut Your To-Do List

holiday burnout

Holiday burnout is often the result of spreading yourself too thin.

We’ve already discussed the importance of planning with your calendar, but you can cut your to-do list even more.

Many of the things we tell ourselves “we have to do” aren’t actually mandatory.

For example:

  • Send Christmas cards or letters
  • Go on a Christmas light tour
  • Schedule fancy family portraits
  • Attend every party and parade
  • Watch every movie on your list
  • Make new ornaments
  • Bake treats for the neighbors
  • The Elf on the Shelf
  • Decorate every room in your home
  • Cut your own Christmas tree
  • Use an advent calendar
  • Cook elaborate holiday meals
  • Buy matching Christmas pajamas

While all these things are great fun, don’t force yourself to do them “just because you have to.”

Instead, prioritize the things that bring you the most joy. 

#5 Don’t Make Everything from Scratch

holiday burnout

There is something about the holiday season that makes our DIY spirit come to life.

But, if you tend to suffer from holiday burnout, it may be time to rein it in. You don’t need to make everything from scratch – crafts, cookies, or cards.

It is perfectly acceptable to buy some pre-made dishes for the holiday meal or skip making homemade treats for teachers this year.

#6 Make Healthy Choices

holiday burnout

The holiday season makes it easy to throw our typical health routines out of the window.

We don’t sleep, eat, or drink like usual. We sleep a little less and eat and drink a little more. Unfortunately, those moments of overindulging or staying up too late will lead to holiday burnout.

What feels good at the moment will lead to regret later.

#7 Simplify Gift Giving

holiday burnout

Another reason we suffer from holiday burnout is that we stress over Christmas gifts.

Some people have too many people on their Christmas lists – buying a little something for everyone they know including their favorite barista.

Other people spend too much energy searching for the perfect present for each person.

Either way, they will experience holiday burnout before they get to enjoy giving the gifts they bought.

Instead, simplify gift giving. Cut your Christmas gift list down to a reasonable amount of people. 

If you have a large family, ask to draw names instead of buying for everyone.

For those who buy too many or spend too much time looking for gifts, consider following the four-gift rule. 

The four-gift rule means only buying your immediate family members four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

#8 Put Your Elves to Work

holiday burnout

In general, the people who suffer holiday burnout are the ones who are doing the most work.

If you are the one who does all the holiday planning, decorating, cooking, and cleaning, you need to ask for help. Ask your spouse or kids to help share the load. 

#9 Take Time for Yourself

holiday burnout

During all the hustle and bustle, it is important to take some time for yourself if not every day, then regularly.

A few minutes alone will do you a world of good. Take time to meditate, do yoga, or read a book.

Wake up early to enjoy a cup of coffee in silence before the busyness of your day begins. 

[Related Read: 5 Simple Ways to Unplug at Christmastime]

#10 Watch Overspending

holiday burnout

A major holiday stressor is money. It’s not surprising, considering how Americans tend to overspend during the holidays.

Check out these statistics from Magnify Money’s post-holiday debt survey³:

  • Americans took on an average of $1,325 of holiday debt during the holidays.
  • 44% of consumers took on debt this holiday season, and the majority (57%) didn’t plan on doing so. Fifty-two percent of Generation Xers and 50% of millennials added holiday debt, versus just 36% of baby boomers.
  • 78% of those with holiday debt won’t be able to pay it off come January, including 15% who are only making minimum payments.
  • 58% of indebted consumers are stressed about their holiday debt.

When we overspend during the holiday season, we often feel guilty, ashamed, and even more stressed.

Avoid starting the new year in debt by setting a budget and sticking to it. 

[Related Read: 10 Ways to Avoid Taking on Holiday Debt This Year]

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  1. https://nypost.com/2018/11/20/1-in-3-americans-get-holiday-burnout-before-christmas/
  2. https://studyfinds.org/jingle-bell-crock-88-of-americans-feel-the-holiday-season-is-most-stressful-time-of-year/
  3. https://www.magnifymoney.com/news/2019-holiday-debt/
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