2020 has been the strangest year. We’ve faced lockdown restrictions twice, have had to adjust to local tier systems, and yet we somehow still find ourselves gearing up for the festivities ahead, with Christmas racing toward us.

Yes, the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ is just around the corner and with that comes the (slightly different than usual) planning, excitement and busy-ness associated with the festive season.

As we head towards the winter solstice, you’ll have noticed how quickly the sunlight disappears in the evenings; that sharp chill in the air – and this, combined with the pressure of getting prepared for Christmas, can be overwhelming. And more so than ever this year…

Christmas 2020 brings with it unforeseen challenges, as we face not seeing some of our loved ones, managing day-to-day life under the limitations of COVID-19 plus the underlying health worries that a global pandemic can cause. All of this, combined with the usual seasonal pressures, can easily lead to burnout – or ‘festive fatigue’! 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It can occur when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. The pressure to juggle it all, be all things to all people and make the magic happen can easily take its toll.

Prevention really is better than cure, so here are my seven seasonal suggestions which I think will help you avoid festive fatigue!

1. Don’t be afraid to say no

Keep your diary manageable. Whether that means declining Zoom invitations or cutting back on the extra hours working, scaling back on the presents or Christmas lunch, it is ok to set boundaries and say no sometimes. Do what makes you feel good, there are no ‘have-to-do’s’ and sometimes saying no, even if it’s difficult or doesn’t come naturally, is the best thing you can do for your own well-being. You are allowed to rest and take some time out over the Christmas season, this year has been tough, minimise the pressure on yourself.

2. Schedule you-time

Studies show that you’ll actually be more productive if you set better boundaries and dedicate time to your personal life and passions. In this ‘always on’ culture we live in, shutting off and having some guilt-free personal time is essential and Christmas is the perfect opportunity to take a step back, invest in you and reconnect with your own wellbeing.

3. Look after your physical health

It can be tempting to snuggle up on the sofa with a mulled wine during the colder, darker winter months, but looking after your physical health will positively impact all other areas of your wellbeing too. Keep yourself moving, stay hydrated (with water, not excessive festive tipples!) and eat nourishing foods (step away from the third mince pie!). Maintaining a balanced diet and ensuring you take daily exercise will not only safeguard your physical health, but it has enormous benefits to your mental health too.

4. Balance the boring with the fun

Be honest, you know which tasks make you excited and which ones fill you with dread. Share the boring ones (wrapping presents is much more fun with a friend or family member, even over Zoom!), and embrace the fun ones, using them to break up the less enjoyable responsibilities. Can the family all chip in with making Christmas dinner this year? Make it a game and give everyone ‘jobs’, everyone will feel a sense of achievement and tasks which could be dull or stressful can become fun! Learn to alternate these and place them strategically in your day and your week to make sure you’re maximising your mental capacity and keeping things fun as much as possible during the busy festive season. 

5. Get organised

Treat yourself to a pretty festive journal, planner or to-do list and get those Christmas tasks and events written down (including the daily you-time). By knowing what must happen on any given day, and what else needs to be done, you will be able to streamline your schedule. Use your task list to plan each day the night before. Starting your morning knowing the planning has been done already will energise you to get going. You’ll also be able to plan in key milestones in the run up to Christmas – writing cards, buying and wrapping presents, last posting dates, online food shopping; map it all out and take away some of the decision making pressure.

6. Be grateful 

Yes, this year could look very different to ‘normal’ Christmas’. We might not be able to be with all our loved ones, there will likely be no carols at the village pub, and Christmas shopping is likely to be done online. But Christmas cheer is wherever we choose to see it. Start each day by telling yourself at least five things that you are grateful for – how about ‘I am so grateful that my family and I are happy and healthy this Christmas’, or ‘I am grateful for modern day technology which allows me to connect with my loved ones this Christmas, even if we can’t physically be together’. This will train your mind to look for the good in each day, which in turn will help to generate more good things. Doing this regularly will ‘reset’ your filter so that you subconsciously create things to be grateful for and focus on the positives in your day instead of worrying about the negatives. The festive season is a time of fun and family, so even though it can come with added pressures, choose to see all the things to be grateful for and surround yourself with positivity 

7. Make like Elsa

…and ‘let it go’! There is so much pressure to strive for perfection, exacerbated by the photoshopped unreality of social media. It’s OK if you buy the Christmas cake and don’t make it. So what if the beds aren’t made everyday? And it’s OK if you don’t see all of your friends and family – especially this year. If something feels like it’s too much, then let it go. Though festive fatigue is a very real possibility, by following these tips and always remembering to prioritise self-care, burnout can be avoided. That leaves you free to enjoy a very Merry Christmas indeed!

For more tips like this and advice eon developing a positive mindset, why not listen to my podcast, Tara Talks? Learn more here: