Chronic Pain5 Ways To Avoid Holiday Burnout When Living With Chronic Illness

5 Ways To Avoid Holiday Burnout When Living With Chronic Illness

Does the holiday season tend to leave you feeling overwhelmed and emotionally drained? There’s a word for that, and it’s called holiday burnout.
The holidays are a time for joy, celebration, and reconnecting with loved ones. But for many, it can evoke a range of uncomfortable feelings. How can you deal with it all, especially when living with chronic pain? With the 2022 holiday season quickly approaching, let’s explore holiday burnout and the ways you can avoid it.

What Is Holiday Burnout?

Holiday burnout is a term used to describe the emotional overwhelm one feels from expectations and pressures during the holiday season. From adjustments in daily schedules, family or interpersonal conflicts, and even mental health concerns, holiday burnout can be influenced by several factors. And for those living with chronic illnesses, the pressure to keep up can feel even more overwhelming. In an attempt to create memories and maintain traditions and customs, one may even feel their mental well-being is ignored during this time of year, causing the holiday season to be more stressful than joyful.

Common Symptoms of Holiday Burnout

You could be exhibiting signs of holiday burnout if you feel any of the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Feelings of prolonged stress, overwhelm, and anxiety
  • Losing interest in things
  • Feeling drained after socializing
  • Having difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • A disrupted digestive system
  • Frustration due to the holiday chores or activities

5 Ways to Avoid Holiday Burnout When Living With Chronic Illness

1. Make plans in advance

Before committing to any social events or responsibilities during the holidays, be sure to plan ahead and give yourself time to reflect on how you wish to fill your calendar. Whether it’s a party, cooking a large meal, or preparing gifts for family and friends, check in with yourself to see what feels best for you and your body and plan accordingly. Remember, what sounds fun in the moment may not feel manageable in a few weeks’ time. Consider creating a schedule with small and large tasks spaced out to prevent overwhelm, exhaustion, and other feelings of holiday burnout.

2. Prioritize self-care

Self Care Holiday Burnout

Practicing self-care is essential for all aspects of your mental and physical well-being, but in the midst of familial obligations, gift-buying, and holiday traveling, it can be easy to lose your sense of well-being and succumb to feelings of holiday burnout.

Moreover, prioritizing self-care during the holiday season doesn’t have to be glamorous. Rather, it’s all about maintaining a healthy routine with respect to your chronic health condition. Prioritizing self-care can be as simple as:

  • Doing light physical activity, e.g., walking, yoga, or strength/resistance training
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Staying hydrated
  • Listening to your body
  • Showering
  • Maintaining your sleep schedule
  • Eating healthy, nutrient-dense meals

3. Set boundaries

From obligated gift-giving to hours of traveling, it can feel uncomfortable to say no to holiday expectations. But if saying yes leaves you feeling overwhelmed, and puts your health at risk, give yourself permission to set boundaries and say no. Not only is this empowering, but by being mindful of your mental and physical capabilities you’re safeguarding your health, avoiding feelings of holiday burnout, and choosing to spend the holidays in the way that feels best for you. So, rather than pleasing everyone and overcommitting yourself, learn to say a polite no this holiday season.

4. Keep track of your medications

The holidays can get busy thus making it easy to lose track of time and stay on top of the medications you take to manage your chronic illness. To avoid any lapses in care, and ward off feelings of holiday burnout, it can be helpful to set medication reminders on your digital devices, e.g., phone or smartwatch. You can also get pill organizers and set out your medications for each day in a visible place where they won’t be forgotten.

5. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself

With all this talk of holiday burnout, it can be easy to forget that the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun for everyone — so don’t forget to have some! Whether it’s watching your favorite holiday film, cooking a nostalgic dish, or driving around to look at lights, choose to celebrate the holidays with special activities that are just for you and give yourself a break from all other distractions and pressures.

How Do You Cope With Holiday Burnout?

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