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Between winter solstice, end-of-year work mayhem, an endless list of social festivities and the fluctuations of emotions that come with the reflection of the year that was, it’s no wonder many of us feel overwhelmed at a time narrated to be full of joy and prosperity. So, how can we overcome these feelings of overwhelm, internal pressure and avoid the ever dreaded and often gaslighted ‘festive fatigue’?
There’s no denying for some, Christmas is a time of love, laughter and prosperity, but for many it’s also coupled with feelings of overwhelm, guilt, exhaustion and misunderstood festive fatigue.
Considering we’ve just surpassed winter solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year in the nordic region, and are well and truly in the depths of winter, potentially grappling with experiences of low Vitamin D3 and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)¹ it’s understandable that with the added layers of everything else that comes with the festive season many of us are experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions to say the least.
According to the American Psychological Association nearly 50 percent of women are suffering from heightened stress throughout the holiday season at the cost of their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing². With many women taking on a higher ratio of caregiver responsibilities in the household, such as planning for holiday gatherings, shopping for thoughtful gifts, cooking, cleaning and other life administrative tasks, on top of their typical day-to-day professional and personal responsibilities, and predisposition to heightened year-round stress levels, festive fatigue is a very real female health concern at the end of year.
In an effort to boost mood up to 41 percent of women are relying on unhealthy coping strategies such as emotional eating², increased alcohol consumption and mindless splurging at the end of the year which consequently contributes to feelings of dissatisfaction and ill health once the dopamine (feel-good hormone) subsides.
Women often report feelings of guilt and loneliness throughout this period with an innate internal expectation to ‘do it all’ and ‘enjoy it all’. While only a portion of the population are faced with these internal pressures and expectations it can feel isolating to some with remarks such as ‘..but it’s christmas – the happiest time of the year!’ or ‘it’s holidays, just enjoy it’ closely mirroring toxic positivity and gaslighting behaviour commonly experienced by those faced with depression.
Festive fatigue, an often unspoken and brushed over experience is more common than many may think with up to 59 percent of women reporting feeling sad, exhausted, disinterested, unmotivated and experiencing a reduced libido² at the end of year.
So how can we protect our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing in an effort to beat festive fatigue this season? Here’s our top tips.
Set clear boundaries with loved ones.
While you may not be able to indulge in all your healthful vices to support your wellbeing at this time, pick one or two you can commit to which light you up, boost your energy and sense of emotional wellbeing. This may be 5 minutes of meditation each morning, and end of day solo walk in nature, 10 minutes of journaling, or no-screen, alcohol free gametime with loved ones to boost feelings of deep connection.
Don’t go cold turkey on your healthful food routines.
If you’re someone who generally eats a low inflammatory diet, ie. minimal sugar, gluten, dairy, meat, alcohol or preservatives because you know these foods leave you feeling less like you, try to indulge with balance as opposed to an all-or-nothing mentality. Albeit, if you do go from zero to one hundred, be kind to yourself and debunk any toxic body and diet culture dialogue which may arise.
Make a conscious effort to control your inner narrative.
If you’re experiencing feelings of festive fatigue it’s essential not to gaslight yourself, further exasperating the problem with rejecting validity of feelings and forcing toxic positivity upon yourself. Accept and acknowledge any feelings which arise, be empathetic and kind to yourself and move through positive and negative emotions as they arise.