Avoid Seasonal Burnout: Tips for Staying Sane This Season
It’s the most wonderful time of the year …until you’re stretched out the sofa, exhausted and overwhelmed from the hullabaloo, that is. Every year we tell ourselves we’re going to do less and spend more time basking in the real glow of family and friends, rather than attempting to string the perfect LED RGBs from every corner of the house so it’s brighter and twinklier than the neighbor’s.
Why do we do this to ourselves? And more importantly, what are some REAL tips to keep us from repeating the chaos year after year? We can’t simply tell everyone we’re skipping the festivities, can we? Fortunately, we don’t have to — there are ways to maintain sanity and enjoy everything the season has to offer without exhausting our minds and bodies.
Shopping for Gifts
The holiday season is filled with gifts, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Here are a few tips to make shopping more of a joy and less of a chore.
Don’t start shopping three days before your celebration. Trust us, you’ll be much happier if you don’t. Take an extra half-hour during other errands or after work to get shopping done in smaller “chunks.” The trick is to incorporate as much of your shopping into everyday outings as you can, rather than facing a six-hour shop-a-thon on the Saturday before Santa arrives.
When was the last time you went to a big-box department store or discount store? They still have their place, but during the holidays it’s better to avoid anywhere crawling with people and take a look at what your own community business owners have to offer. You really can’t go wrong here: fewer people to tango with, smaller chance to contract COVID-19 and support for the local economy!
Keep “no name” gifts on hand.
Remember that time your friend from college came over with a candle and a bottle of wine and you panicked? Don’t let that happen again. Keep a few “no-name” gifts that could be good for anyone who surprises you, such as wine, gourmet candy and snacks, candles and hand soap.
Cooking and Decorating
The sights and scents of the season are certainly treasured, but so is your mental health. There are ways to have both.
There is no end to the work you can do during the holiday season, and it’s important to understand that you’re in control. Make a quick list at the beginning of the season of what is most important to you in terms of decorating, cooking and other preparations. Let the rest slide. No one but you will notice.
Take shortcuts if you want to.
Not in the mood to care for a real tree this year? Buy an artificial one. Same thing goes for store-bought desserts and gift cards in place of elaborate gifts. The sentiment of the holidays is captured in people, not in objects.
Share the work.
If you’re hosting, don’t be scared to ask people to bring their own beverages, side dishes and snacks. A potluck is always fun and gives others the chance to show off their contributions. You can even turn the potluck into a decorating party and share even more of your task list!
Parties and Gatherings
‘Tis the season for soirees every night of the week. Follow our advice so you don’t end up partied out.
Give yourself space.
It’s perfectly OK to say “no” to something, even if it’s a relative that you have a less-than-stellar relationship with. If you’re feeling stretched thin, wait until after the season passes to catch up. There’s another year coming, after all.
Remember, public outings are shorter.
Here’s a secret: go to a restaurant or coffee shop with a relative or friend, and you can cut the time obligation in half. If you go to someone’s house or they come to yours, parting ways can be harder.
Create a party curfew.
If you do choose to attend a party, you don’t have to stay until midnight — you can leave at 9 p.m. after cheese, crackers and a single glass of wine. If you go to a party with the intent of capping the event at two hours — then go home and unwind before bed — you’ll reap the benefits.
Avoid “just this once” mentality.
Are you a nondrinker who might be swayed to take a celebratory shot during the holidays? Do you stick to a non-dairy diet …but you’re tempted by blue and brie on the charcuterie tray? Avoid the temptation to overindulge in things that might “shock” your system.
Stick to one drink.
Don’t want to feel tired and subpar the next day? Stick to one cocktail, beer or glass of red wine, and sip slowly. For bonus points, stick to mixed drinks that have no sugars from fruit juices or simple syrups. A splash of club soda or seltzer and a wedge of orange or lime is your best mixer for a happy day ahead.
Written by: Denise K. James
Photography by: Michelle Wilkerson