With December comes holiday decorations, classics on the radio, and time spent with loved ones. But the month also brings early sunsets, busy schedules, chaotic stores, and endless to-do lists.
What is a time of rest and nostalgia for some can quickly lead to burnout for others.
What is burnout?
While it’s normal to experience some stress, too much can lead to burnout. According to Julie Manuel, behavioral health program manager at Kettering Health Behavioral Medical Center, burnout happens when life’s demands exceed our ability to meet them.
“Burnout is when we’re feeling really overwhelmed by the sense of having tremendous demands,” Julie says.
Those experiencing burnout often feel fatigued and might withdraw from normal life.
Burnout can also cause physical symptoms such as
- Heart palpitations
While burnout can happen at any time, the end of the year often comes with higher levels of stress and demands.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure at the end of the year to put everything into a nice, little package and file it away perfectly.” says Julie. “And then you couple that with the pressure of the holidays.”
Social media allows us to share our favorite holiday moments, but it can also create unrealistic expectations for the holidays.
“Social media definitely creates a very wonderful window into people’s world that they want you to see,” Julie explains.
Putting things into perspective—understanding that not everything our friends, families, and favorite celebrities post is the truth—can help take the pressure off the holidays. Stepping away from social media can lower stress and prevent burnout.
“Making sure that you don’t have those unrealistic expectations of yourself is really important,” Julie says.
The first step to prevent burnout, Julie says, is to slow down. In today’s fast-paced, hyper-productivity culture, we can get lost in our to-do lists. Taking a few minutes to evaluate how you feel can go a long way.
“Being present with yourself in those moments is absolutely the number one thing that you can do,” she says.
Understanding what causes our stress makes it easier for us to prepare and recover. Julie explains that scheduling time to practice self-care is essential during times of burnout.
If you’re having a difficult time getting into the holiday spirit and feeling signs of burnout, Julie encourages those struggling to reach out to their support groups and take time for themselves.
“It’s okay to not feel cheery and bright all of the time,” she says.