Four Simple Shifts to Beat Holiday Burnout

Melting snowman Every year I overdo it during the holidays and feel burned out on food and people. How can I avoid it this holiday season?

‘Tis the season of festive parties, endless shopping lists, and hectic travel. While the end of the year is meant to be a time of joy and celebration, for some, the seemingly endless stream of calendar obligations and growing to-do lists can lead to stress and feelings of overwhelmedness.

Read on for four simple tips to help you navigate the holidays from a place of mindfulness and peace.

Realize you don’t have to do it all. The calendar invitations are trickling in, and it’s starting to look like you won’t have a free night or weekend until January. But before you RSVP yes, stop and check in with your personal holiday priorities. Make a list of the activities that are important to you every year (like your friends’ annual holiday dinner party) and ditch those you’re dreading, like baking three dozen macarons for that cookie swap (sorry, Mom). It’s OK to protect your time and then enjoy that freeing feeling that comes with a simple “sorry, can’t make it.”

Keep up with your healthy eating habits, but give yourself space to indulge. Nothing derails a healthy routine like the sweet treats of the holidays. However, you don’t have to be a grinch and avoid every cookie that passes your way if you’re sticking to your wellness routine most of the time. Decide early on which treats are worth it or not while still aiming to get your balanced fill of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats most days of the week.

Make room on your calendar for physical activity. Regular physical activity reduces adrenaline and cortisol, the body’s stress hormones, and releases chemicals called endorphins that naturally reduce anxiety. And while making time for exercise may seem counterintuitive when your holiday schedule is packed to the brim, even 20 minutes of low-impact activity can clear the mind and reduce stress.

Prioritize sleep. Weeknight events and late weekend parties can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. In fact, the American Psychological Foundation reports that most Americans get 6.7 hours of sleep a night (less than the recommended 7-9 hours) and adults who get less than 8 hours a night report higher levels of stress overall. Prioritizing sleep is always a good idea!

While the holidays can be a hectic and stress-inducing time, approaching the holiday season with a mindset shift toward self-care can make a big impact on your stress levels overall. Here’s to a healthy — and calm — holiday season!

At Bon Appétit, we know there’s a lot on your plate that you worry about. That’s why we have a team of registered dietitian nutritionists ready to answer your nutrition questions about which food choices will help you avoid unwanted pounds, work or study (and sleep!) better, and form long-lasting healthy eating habits. Email your questions and feedback to nutrition@cafebonappetit.com.