A joyful holiday season

If the holidays are supposed to be fun, why do I feel so down? A very important and common question.

My guess is that you are either:

  1. Over-scheduled
  2. Under-scheduled

The “over-scheduler’s” tendency to volunteer, sign up, or host events really ramps up at the holidays. Maybe you feel you just can’t say NO with so many worthwhile causes that need your help. And perhaps your parents taught you it is “rude” to decline social invitations (whether you want to attend or not). This combination, in addition to your job or schoolwork—and your own family responsibilities, can lead to holiday burnout. You have no time to exercise, never make it to the grocery store—much less cook a meal, and rarely get to bed before midnight. 

The “under-scheduler” may have a demanding job or academic schedule, so is hesitant to make plans and has no family living close. After a long day, they go home alone to order takeout and watch TV or read. While this routine is never ideal, it feels even more lonely during the holidays when everyone seems to be engaged and socializing constantly. While curling up with a good book in the bath seems heavenly on occasion, everyone needs friendship and some time to socialize after a stressful day. 

If you fall into the “over-scheduler” camp, practice saying NO. Ideally you should be home 3 or 4 nights a week with some time for exercise, time to make a simple home cooked meal (a turkey, veggie, and bean chili takes less than 30 minutes to prepare), and be asleep before 11pm. No one is giving out prizes for “the individual who accomplishes the most in a month”, but more likely you will just feel burned out, exhausted, unhealthy, and often depressed on New Year’s Eve. Pick 3 events a week that YOU would like to attend, with people YOU love, and just be honest about declining the other offers. “Last year I did too much and wound up getting sick for Christmas, so I am trying to take it easy this year and not over-schedule myself. I am sure you understand”. Burnout averted!

The “under scheduler” can struggle with a case of the holiday blues, as they get bogged down with work and don’t remember to schedule some fun, social events to balance out the stress of year end deadlines or exams. Maybe volunteer for a coat drive, toy drive, or food collection with a couple people from work or school? Giving something back during the holiday season is an instant mood boost, and also a nice way to meet people. Call a few friends to host a “wrapping party”—you provide the snacks and beverages and your friends can bring the gift wrap, ribbons, and tape. A perfect way to tackle a task, while socializing and having a fun evening catching up with friends.

No one wants to start the new year feeling exhausted, lonely, or unhealthy. Put a plan in place NOW so the holidays will be a season of excitement, energy, and joy and still leave you recharged for 2022!

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