Consistently in December, I experience the same phenomenon. I start having a hard time focusing at work. Exhaustion becomes overwhelming, headaches become frequent, and my stomach hurts alot. Even though I know there is a break coming at the end of the month, I feel like I’m just not going to make it with sanity intact. I jokingly referred to it as “end of the year burnout”, but this week, I found out it is a real thing.
It makes sense, right? There is a collision of holiday related tasks needing to be done at the same time you are trying to wrap projects up at work. A list of to-dos seemingly with no end. The minute you get one thing scratched off the list, it gets replaced by five more.
Signs of End of the Year Burnout:
Burnout was acknowledged by the World Health Organization in May of 2019, as an occupational phenomenon caused by chronic stress.
The symptoms are:
- Feeling miserable
- Easy tearfulness
- Sleep disturbances and nightmares
- Digestive problems
- Pronounced aches and pains
What Can You Do?
Good news is there are plenty of things to combat this syndrome. Bad news is you have to kick your discipline muscle in overdrive in order to battle the feelings of exhaustion and hopelessness in order to get you through. You can do this!
The list of ideas I provide below is too long to try to incorporate everything, but pick at least three and do them everyday.
- Avoid electronics. Constantly staring at a screen, submitting yourself to negative information, and comparisons with others will not help you feel more motivated. Use these as sparingly as possible.
- Power Naps. This sounds counter-intuitive when you have a list a mile long. However, drink some coffee or tea and then lay down for 20 minutes. It takes that long for the caffeine to kick in anyway. When you get up you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go.
- Me Time. More than likely you won’t have time for an hour long soak in a luxurious bath, but you can carve out 20-30 minutes in your day to read a book, sit in quiet, or cuddle with your pet.
- You Are Sick. Treat yourself like you are recovering from an illness (because you are). Most people tend to be more compassionate with themselves when they are sick. Go at a slower pace and delegate tasks to others.
- Exercise. This is not the time to ditch any regular exercise routine you have. Even if you just squeeze in a short walk, bike ride or some stretching you’ll feel the benefits. Recruit friends and family to join you and you’ll be spending time with the ones you love at the same time. Remember regular exercise helps you sleep better!
- Pace yourself at work. Prioritize and then focus on one thing at a time. Take frequent short breaks and definitely get away from work at lunchtime. Consume decaffeinated drinks to avoid a crash. Always end the day at a reasonable time. You will not get ahead by burning the midnight oil. There will always be work. Taking care of yourself ensures you will be able to keep up with it.
- Eat well. Decadent food seems to be everywhere this time of year and I’m not going to tell you to avoid it. Indulge in a small amount of what you truly desire, but balance it with whatever seems to be the healthiest choice at the time.
- Slow down. Incorporate meditation or yoga into your breaks at work or me time. Even a 5 minute guided meditation can do wonders to slow your breathing and make you feel less frantic. Quick yoga stretches and poses can be done virtually anywhere. Remember to breathe deeply.
- Hydrate. Drink some fucking water already!
- Budget. As tempting as it is, stick to the budget you planned for parties, gifts, etc. The stress of stretching your finances thin or taking on debt is not worth whatever effect you think you’ll gain by going over budget.
- Volunteer. Be generous with your time and your money. Doing something nice will fill your soul with good endorphins, so look out and take care of others.
- Focus on the positive. Focus on everything you have accomplished instead of anything you didn’t. It’s a tiny mind shift that has a big impact on how you look at yourself.
When You Make It to the Break
When you finally get to time off from work, really enjoy that break. Don’t fill it with more to-dos. Enjoy time with friends and family. Ditch the unrealistic expectation that things need to be perfect. And most importantly, drown yourself in things you love to do and tons of self care.
Currently blocking out from 4PM to 5PM to just play with the cat.