Ways to avoid holiday burnout

by Dec 20, 2021

The holiday season means opportunities for joy and a little merry mayhem. As an adult, though, you’re fully aware of how this can be derailed by your work responsibilities. In fact, in many industries, the holiday period can wind up being one of the busiest. 

Nobody wants their work life to disrupt the joy of the season. Yet, between additional work expectations and a variety of other stressors, this time of year can be a recipe for burnout. This is not only disastrous for holiday fun, but it can have a serious impact on your mental and physical wellbeing. 

Let’s take a look at some of the actions you should implement to protect your wellness and joy during the season.


Get to know the symptoms

One of the dangers surrounding holiday burnout is people’s general unfamiliarity with it. A lot of people are aware of the exhaustion aspect, but this isn’t by any means the whole story. As such, you need to first get familiar with what burnout looks and feels like so you take care of your seasonal mental health

The common symptoms include:

Loss of motivation

You can start to feel like you don’t want to perform tasks at work you used to get some sense of accomplishment from. You may even get the sense you no longer like your job at all.

This can extend into your personal life too. During the holidays you should be vigilant of the feeling you don’t want to engage with activities or with other people.


It’s not unusual to become irritable during the holiday season! This is why this symptom can be so difficult to spot. It is more than just being a little short with people.

If you’re snapping a lot, feeling constantly grumpy, or things that wouldn’t usually bother you are getting on your nerves, this can be an indicator of burnout.

Lack of focus

Burnout can find your concentration wandering more often than usual. This often results in you becoming easily distracted from your tasks or taking longer than usual to complete even simple jobs. Unfortunately, you could see a drop in productivity that  leaves you working longer and harder, resulting in a greater risk of holiday burnout.

Physical symptoms

There may also be some physical issues you frequently experience when burnout sets in. Common examples of these are related to tension. If you get a lot of headaches, stomach pains, and nausea, this can be a sign of burnout.


Don’t overfill your plate

Let’s face it, the holiday season tends to be a time we all go a little overboard. When it comes to your work, your generosity and enthusiasm might see you pushing harder than you should. This isn’t a bad personality trait, but you need to remain mindful of your limits so you don’t go too far and tumble into holiday burnout. 

Carefully assess what your workload is and how the changes of the season may affect it. Often this time of year is considered a peak networking period, but you should weigh requests to attend client events against the pressure it will place on your current workload. There may be a natural uptick in your duties in industries like retail or hospitality, but have a realistic idea of what you can actually achieve. If you have concerns, you should speak out and seek assistance.

This approach should extend to actions in your personal life, too. Doing too much in your evenings without taking time to rest can leave you exhausted during your relentless work schedule. You’ll be at greater risk of burning out. Not to mention if you’re one of the 40% of Australians that experience social anxiety at this time of year, it can exacerbate matters.

The commitments, events, and tasks during the holidays can become overwhelming, so you need to implement stress-management techniques in your social life. Keep things simple and start activities like shopping and planning early. Remembering to take care of yourself can minimise the potential for burnout at work.


Use effective tools

Often the focus on avoiding holiday burnout will target adjusting your practices and standards. But it’s worth remembering we are living in a digital age with a range of useful tools at your disposal. Take the time to review where the application of these can ease a little pressure during the holidays and better safeguard your mental wellbeing.

If you’re managing a team, a contributor to burnout can be the propensity for everyone to run around attending to their family and travel plans at the last minute. You can reduce stress for everyone by utilising remote tools to allow everyone to work from home and ease toward their time off.

This may take some planning, as successful remote collaborations require software and structures to keep everyone included, motivated, and organised. Particularly where staff will be travelling to different time zones, it’s important to work together to make this fair and functional.

But it’s tools like online whiteboards that will enable each of you to easily contribute in a clear and frustration-minimal way. This can lift a significant amount of the seasonal work burden contributing to burnout.

On a more personal level, remember your smartphone can be a device to avoid causes of mental unwellness. There are simple elements like setting scheduling reminders to prompt you to take regular breaks in whatever you’re doing. Using a mindfulness and meditation app can also be a helpful way to take a moment out of the chaos of the holidays to attend to your mental state.



The holidays can be an especially stressful time, which may become a recipe for burnout at work. By gaining a better understanding of the symptoms, you can act early to avoid issues. You should also minimize becoming overwhelmed by additional duties, performance expectations, and parties.

It’s also worth exploring some of the tech tools that can help you ease your various burdens. This time of year is meant to be a period of joy and fun — be kind to yourself and do what you can to keep it this way.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher

Freelance Writer

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth. You can follow her work at charliefletcher.contently.com