Prevent Burnout These Holidays! 8 Practical Ways To Stay Calm

Restful Life
5 min read

Family conflicts, work parties, shopping crowds, oh my!

Burnout is the feeling of desperation, extreme stress, and demotivation. And ‘holiday burnout’ is brought on by the extra demands and expectations of the holiday season.

With an over-scheduled social calendar plus the demands of entertaining, shopping, and decorating, this time of year can be fraught with chaos, drama, and overwhelm.

Not to mention family and interpersonal conflicts that can arise because of increased stress levels.

So… want to transform your traditions from turbulent to tranquil?

Here are 8 ways to prevent holiday burnout and stay calm.

1. Set an intention

What do you desire for this holiday season? What do you want to do? How do you want to spend your time?

Setting an intention for how you want to feel and what you want to do brings you clarity and reduces chaos. Focus on the simple pleasures and make them the centre of your plans. This will help you maintain perspective and keep calm.

2. Make a plan

The key to preventing an overly full schedule is a plan. List out all the things you want to do and then schedule them into your calendar.

Before committing to any requests, you can simply say “Let me check my calendar”. If it doesn’t fit? Feel free to decline.

This can help ensure that you don’t take on more than you can handle.

3. Schedule restful self-care

Black woman rests in a bubble bath with her eyes closed

Your own well-being is a priority. In between all the socialising with friends, family and work colleagues, it’s important to have white space in your calendar.

Making time to rest is vital to maintaining balance and avoiding holiday overwhelm. While you’re making a plan, remember to schedule in time for some restful self-care.

This includes time for naps, meditation, spending some time in nature, a warm bath, or simply just quiet time to yourself.

4. Drop the guilt

The holiday season can bring enormous amounts of social pressure. And it can be really hard to feel like you can say no.

But you are under no obligation to attend any event - even if it’s with faaaaaamily.

Part of having good boundaries is knowing what is suitable for you, and being okay with disappointing others. There’s no need to feel guilt or shame for declining an invitation or leaving a party “early”. Even if other people are trying to weaponise guilt to get you to do what they want.

Give yourself permission to do what’s important to you and leave the guilt-trips behind.

5. Ask for (and let people) help

Woman with grey hair in orange top helps a man in a blue top cook in the kitchen

When preparing for an event, a mealtime or a party during the holidays, there’s always a lot to do. But you don’t need to do every single task yourself.

Taking on everything yourself is a great way to build resentment and burnout. Be direct about how other people can support you during a busy or stressful time. And letting go of how things should be done in a certain way can lift a lot of the burden.

When people want to help, telling them a concrete way that they can assist is a gift, not a burden. Then allow them to do it in their own way. Calm clear communication empowers everyone to work together constructively.

6. Keep small rituals

During the chaos of the holiday season, it can be hard to maintain a routine.

Staying late at parties, running errands all over town, and visiting family can all disrupt daily life. Keeping small rituals such as a restful bedtime routine can help provide a feeling of calm predictability in an otherwise irregular schedule.

7. Practice calm

Self-regulation is a skill. Which means during stressful times, coming back home to calm is a practice.

When you feel tension rising, it means the stress response has been activated. Your heart rate has increased and breathing usually becomes shallow.

In order to stay calm and prevent overwhelm, you need to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system - otherwise known as the ‘rest & digest system’.

The quickest and easiest way to do this is by extending your exhale.

Animation of inhaling for a count of 2 and exhaling for a count of 4

When you take a big nourishing inhale, and then slowly gently exhale, it signals to the body that danger has passed.

When you slow down your breathing and extend your exhale, you’ll start feeling calmer right away.

8. Maintain connections

Sometimes the holiday season isn’t busy and chaotic. Sometimes the holidays can be an isolating time.

So if you’re feeling lonely, it’s important to maintain social connections. Reaching out to loved ones via phone or video conferencing can help bridge long distances.

Remind yourself that even though other people may be busy, they still want to hear from you. Scheduling a time to connect with them isn’t a burden.

If your social network is small, then volunteering can also be a great way to connect to others and feel part of something larger than yourself.


The holidays can be a stressful chaotic or even lonely time. But by setting intentions, crafting a plan that includes restful self-care, asking for help when you need it, keeping in touch with others, and giving yourself permission to do what is right for you - the holidays can be a lot calmer.