By Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, author of Mommy Burnout: how to reclaim your life and raise healthier children in the process
Whether it’s your family, finances or the never ending to do list that most of us have, burnout around the holidays is the real deal. We need to consciously protect ourselves from the slippery slope of parties, drinking, spending too much money or saying yes to way too much in order to not fall down the hole and feel burned out. Here are 3 of my top tips for managing this stress around the holidays and beyond.
1. Let go of unnecessary to-do’s- if you find that every week one item goes onto the new sticky note to do list it’s probably not that important or you can delegate it to someone else. Or don’t keep writing to start that diet on a note each week- when you are really ready to start it you won’t need a to-do list to do it- you just will. Make the items on the to do list actionable within 5 days or scratch them.
2. Create structure for your day- most people feel so overwhelmed when they sit down in the front of the computer for work or at the kitchen counter when the kids have left the house for the school day. If you don’t have a plan for the day you will likely feel scattered and just impulsively do what is easier or what just happens to be right at the top of the inbox or right in front of you in the kitchen. The night before or early morning of your work day should be a time for reflection and planning. Reflect on what you are grateful for and what you need to accomplish for the day. Acknowledge that not all things will get done today- just identify what needs to get done and when. Figure out when you are most successful at working out, cleaning, running meetings or responding to emails and try to structure your day around those times.
3. Wants versus needs- this is a tricky time of year to be able to differentiate between the two. Our every want is being flashed before our eyes in ads and messages. But, in order to maintain your sanity, you need to be clear about the two. Do you want to host dinner for 25 people or do you need to? Do you want to go into credit card debt to buy gifts or do you need to? Do you want a new laptop or do you need one? The questions to contemplate could go on and on. This is a good practice for both you and your kids. Yes, the holiday season is often about what you want and not what you need but people put themselves in a state of stress suddenly confusing the two. Take some time to do this exercise and share it with others.
Burnout can creep up on any of us at any time. It is not usually something that happens suddenly although it may feel that way. It is typically a process of exhaustion and prolonged exposure to stress that we just don’t take time to acknowledge. By being conscious throughout the process you can take these steps to avoid burnout anytime of the year.