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  • Writer's pictureKirsti Gwynn

3 Ways to Avoid Overwhelm During the Holidays

There are lots of things I love about celebrating a holiday; for one, it brings people together.

But if you’re an introvert (like me), busy social occasions can come with their challenges, too. Spending so much time socialising, without any time to rest and recharge, can tire you out.

As much as I enjoy spending time with the people I love, I often emerge from these occasions needing a holiday to follow my holiday.

So how can you avoid overwhelm and enjoy the holidays fully? Here are 3 ways.

1. Think of Your Future Self

Every year, my husband and I travel back to Cape Town to visit our family and friends, usually over Christmas.

I really miss our loved ones back home, so it feels natural to accept every social invitation offered and to make sure I’ve spent as much time with everyone as possible.

But sometimes, when I’m saying yes to the third social event in a day, I have a quiet sense that I’m setting myself up for exhaustion.

It’s fine, I find myself saying, in response to this inner wisdom. I’ll manage...

But past experience has shown me that overbooking myself is something I’ll later regret.

When I rush from one social event to the next, it’s hard to be fully present for any single one of them. It’s just not possible to show up as my best, happiest self when I’m spread thin.

The truth is, it’s easier for our present self to say yes. Maybe we feel bad saying no, or there’s pressure from others, or we simply want to do more than is realistic.

But since your future self is the one who has to fulfill whatever commitments your present self sets up, it’s your future self you need to be thinking of.

What would the future you want? What will set up your future self for the happiest, most stress-free holiday possible?

Is there anything your future self would be grateful you said no to?

2. Schedule Time for Self-Care

Part of my over-scheduling habits came from prioritising only things that required energy, without foreseeing that I’d need to replenish those resources.

These days, I make sure I’m keeping some time free to replenish my energy. As an introvert, this usually means finding some quiet time to do something I enjoy.

Perhaps I’ll keep an afternoon free for a walk on the promenade, or a morning to read my book.

You, too, may benefit from intentionally creating space to recharge.

Maybe you know you’ll need a nap after Christmas lunch before heading to dinner, so you carve out an hour for that. Or perhaps you set aside the whole day before for yourself.

After all, building in time to recharge your batteries means you’ll have the energy to make the most of the festivities.

Your future self will thank you for that.

3. Release your Expectations

The expectations you bring to any situation greatly influence how you experience it.

Since society portrays an image of a picture-perfect family Christmas, that means expectations are often high.

But the truth is, for many people, the image of a perfect holiday just doesn’t match the reality.

If you go into the day with rigid expectations about how people should behave, and they behave differently, you’re going to find that irritation and disappointment quickly arise.

Instead, try approaching the day with an open mind, accepting each moment as it unfolds.

This will help you to be less reactive if things don’t go according to plan, as well as more easily able to experience the joy of an unexpected surprise.


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