Are you feeling as though your energy over the holiday period is more “Silent Night” than it is “Deck the halls”?
It's a crazy time of year, and something I see as imperative at this time is to look after yourself during all the revelry. Although many people view the end of year as a leisurely break, the lead up to Christmas actually poses a high risk of burnout and fatigue.
To ensure you keep your shining light bright each night, make sure you know your personal warning signs of fatigue, so that you can enjoy the festivities without fear of a Grinchy experience.
Energy in the Bank
Our energy is a complex, multifaceted part of the human experience. Mental and emotional energy operates like a bank account, and we are allocated a certain amount every day. With that energy, you can withdraw funds (interacting in busy environments, wrapping presents late at night, feeding the WHOLE family on Christmas Day) – or you might like to credit your account with restorative activities such as quiet reading, quality time with friends and family, meditation and walking. You can also overdraw from the bank of energy. It may be fun or seem necessary at the time, but the interest rates on this account are particularly high! That’s where burnout comes into play.
Burnout is a state of chronic stress that can cause exhaustion, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness. It is beyond what you may know as ‘regular tiredness’, and it can hamper even the most energetic of us during the festive season.
If you can tick any of the below listed symptoms, you may be headed to an overdraw on your energy bank:
MENTAL: Fatigue, depletion, forgetfulness, inability to focus, sleeplessness
PHYSICAL: Chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, stomach pains, headaches, weakened immune system, loss of appetite
EMOTIONAL: A sense of dread for what lies ahead, tension, worry, sadness, feeling hopeless, exacerbated anxiety and depression
Of note, it is always a good first point to rule out any underlying medical conditions with your GP if you are concerned.
Not sure where your energy savings are being spent?
One strategy I use is an energy management diary. By rating energy during all daily activities from 0-10 (0 being exhausted, 10 being refreshed), we can obtain a clear picture of the week. This is used to then identify triggers and good energy days.
Sometimes we think we are being efficient as humans by ‘piggy-backing’ several activities on top of each other or “multi-tasking”. Drop the kids at school, a little bit of shopping, pop into your friend’s house for a coffee because you’re in the area, don’t forget to bring in the washing off the clothes line, pick up the kids, end of year break-up for your -insert local organisation here-… sound familiar? Each of those activities and their ‘transition’/travel times can deplete your energy savings.
So how can you take back your holiday spirit and budget your energy expenditures?
Say no to that event you’re not too keen on. It can be scary. You might miss out on some candy canes and santa hats. But if you are in a period of extreme fatigue, those who know and love you will understand that you need to recharge your batteries, and that’s okay.
Find out what increases your energy. This could be a nice walk around your local park, hanging out in nature, playing with your pet, or just sitting quietly for an allocated timeslot every day. In addition, you may find that certain eating habits around the festive season may be hampering your Christmas spirit. Jane Whitbread (B. Nut. Diet) of Blue Lime Nutrition has saved you the hassle of food guilt this Christmas with her article on keeping your energy on point, and alcohol intake in check. Jump on over here to find out more.
Know your signs. I personally get very anxious and irritable if I’ve tried to do too many things in one day. You may find yourself stifling yawns, even ‘nodding off’ into a microsleep, wondering how you got from A to B, or just generally feeling a bit ‘blah’.
Most importantly, prioritise activities that align best with your values these holidays – cherish time spent with family and friends, give to those who need it most, and take good care of yourself.