Since we’ve officially entered endless egg-nog and emotional exhaustion season, this week’s column is dedicated to protecting your physical and mental health over the next month.
Ultimately, self-preservation during the holidays comes down to the importance of setting boundaries.
There’s a common misconception that boundaries are between you and other people. However, a lot of times, it’s yourself who you must set them with.
Here are three areas where you can take care of yourself this holiday season. And yes, they all involve setting some much-needed boundaries.
How to Recover from Burnout in Time for the Holidays
# 1 Avoid creating undue work stress for yourself
There’s something about the holiday season that makes us all a little bit nutty over deadlines.
Ultimately, I think it comes from a combination of the calendar year ending and the abundance of out-of-office reminders in our inboxes.
The fact is, this time of year there’s a lot coming at you fast and you might feel the pressure to be further along in projects or to get more ahead on your work “before the break”.
My challenge for you is to take a pause, a deep breath, and an honest look at what you truly need to get done.
You can start by making a list of your top work priorities. Then, take a look at each item on the list and ask yourself if it’s a bottom-line increasing activity or just something you think you ‘should’ do. Next, remove the items that are not actually going to move the needle for you.
It’s easy to put self-imposed deadlines on yourself this time of year but I highly encourage you to stray away from overloading your calendar with meetings or bringing undue work stress onto yourself.
You really can reduce your sense of burnout by being realistic about what work can wait until after the holidays.
#2 Carefully protect your energy
This is all about avoiding the triggers that make you feel burnt out, especially if those triggers come in the form of other human beings.
During the holidays, a lot of emotions co-exist simultaneously.
If you’re an empathetic person like me, the energy of those around you can have a major effect on how you feel.
That’s why it’s critical to take stock of how you are feeling, so you know where a boundary needs to be set.
When you find yourself affected by the energy of others, adjust your plans to ensure you’re spending time with people who energize you instead of draining you.
Remember that it’s ok to say no. You are not obligated to attend every get-together or event to which you are invited, even if they’re from close friends or family.
This may be tough at first but I can’t stress this enough: You are responsible for protecting your own energy and there’s nothing wrong with declining an invitation. Period.
When you’re invited to do something, just ask yourself “will this positively affect my energy?” If not – graciously decline the invitation.
Chances are, the person who invited you will be understanding. After all, it’s been a heck of a year (or two), which brings me to our last point.
#3 Give yourself what you need
Let’s call a spade a spade. The mere fact that you’re a human being on this planet during the last two calendar years means you’ve probably arrived at the “season of joy” feeling more than just a tad emotionally exhausted.
When you acknowledge that we’ve collectively been through the wringer the last few years, you’re a lot more likely to go easy on yourself and give yourself what you need. This is important because no one else can do that for you.
You’ve got to take care of yourself first.
This means listening to your body, thoughts, and emotions and doing your best at any given time to give yourself what you need.
One day, that might be a long walk outside and a good talk with a friend.
Another day, it might be watching all three Princess Switch movies on the couch while eating half a container of Oreos. (Ask me how I know.)
What you need will be also different from what I need, and only you can know what that is.
- Exhausted? Try to get more sleep.
- Can’t sleep? Give yourself some alone time to recharge.
- Can’t calm down? Try meditating.
- Can’t meditate? Take a hot bath with some hot tea and just breathe.
Allow yourself trial and error to determine what you need and give yourself enough compassion to know that it won’t be perfect.
Practice the art of self-compassion.
I know two things for sure. The first is that learning how to recover from burnout is a marathon and not a sprint.
The second is that aside from the giant trees in our living rooms and the 75 seasonally-themed movies suddenly dropping on Netflix, the holidays are good for triggering any stress you’ve experienced over the last year.
Because of that, you’ve got to give yourself grace and compassion when this “stuff” comes up.
Ultimately, if you can keep these tips and mind WHILE giving yourself massive self-compassion and grace, you’ll be in good shape to get through the season with no more than a pumpkin pie hangover and a little Mariah Carey stuck in your head.
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