Are you and your spouse looking forward to the holidays this year—or are you dreading them? Do you find yourselves struggling to enjoy a season that’s supposed to be happy and fulfilling? This time of year is fast-paced and crammed with activities, and if we’re not careful, we can end up getting burned out and exhausted instead of truly allowing ourselves to savor every moment together.
If the two of you are anticipating burnout—or are already stressed to the max, even before the holidays arrive—that’s okay. Every couple experiences holiday burnout at one time or another, but you can work together to make this time of year relaxing and enjoyable again. It will take teamwork, compromise, and the right mix of activities and downtime, but you and your spouse can fully experience this season without getting stressed or stretched too thin. In today’s post (and next week’s, too!), we’re sharing ideas for taking back your sanity during this year’s festivities.
Give yourself permission to rest
For some couples, the holidays are the only time of year when both spouses have (at the very least) a few days off work together and an opportunity to rest. Taking quiet time together is crucial to the health of your relationship, but during the holidays, it’s easy to get stressed because there’s so much to do. To avoid holiday burnout, set aside some time dedicated specifically to resting.
Here are a few ideas to help you work in some extra rest this Christmas:
- Take an afternoon nap together
- Turn in early at least one night
- Enjoy quiet activities like reading, looking through photographs, or doing artwork
- Sleep in as late as you can
- Spend the day in your pajamas
- Grab a cozy blanket, have a mug of hot cocoa, and watch your favorite Christmas movies
Of course, we know it’s not always possible to do less during the holidays; if you and your spouse have several places to be this year and you’re determined not to miss anything, try to build in some time to rest and rejuvenate between celebrations. But if you find yourselves feeling worn thin and burned out…
Remember you don’t have to be everywhere at once
It’s hard to say no to invitations and family traditions during the holidays. Not only are they enjoyable activities for you and your family; they also tend to carry a lot of weight for us and our extended families. But because they carry so much weight, they also tend to create stress for us—especially when we have multiple, equally important gatherings and traditions to consider.
If you’re especially anxious or exhausted when you think about everything you have to do this holiday season, consider picking and choosing which family obligations you’re going to fulfill this year. This is a time of year that’s supposed to be happy and joyful, but if you’re overworking and overstretching yourself in multiple directions, your ability to experience that joy fully is going to be compromised. And that’s the last thing you want to do to yourself when what you really want is to savor this time with your spouse and family.
So how do you know whether you need to pare down your list of traditions this year? If upholding every obligation exhausts you and takes the joy out of the season, or if guilt is your driving force behind showing up to an event or gathering, it might be time to consider picking and choosing a few things you want to do this year—and sticking to those. Talk with your spouse, and work to reach a consensus on what your holiday priorities should be going forward.
If your sense of burnout comes more from the number of gatherings you try to make every year, talk with your spouse about starting a holiday rotation. Maybe instead of going to everything, every year, the two of you might decide to rotate every other year. You might want to attend your spouse’s family gatherings one year, then go to your side of the family the next. Whatever you decide, work to create a fair compromise that works for you both.
Holidays are all about family and togetherness, but it’s important to realize that you can’t keep everyone happy—and sometimes that means deciding that you don’t need to be everywhere at once.
Outsource holiday tasks to lighten your load
The holidays bring their own special (read: extra) workload that piles up quickly on top of everything else you’ve got going on in your lives—jobs, kids, activities, church, and more. Sometimes all that extra work can really burn you and your spouse out. If that sounds like you two this year, maybe you and your spouse can talk about outsourcing some of those holiday tasks, like:
- Gift wrapping
- Putting up or taking down decorations
- Keeping small children occupied or babysitting while you Christmas shop
- Christmas shopping
If your kids are old enough to help you in ways that lighten your load, get them in on the act. Otherwise, consider hiring a high school- or college-age student (maybe from your church youth group) to help you out. It’s a win-win situation: they’ll get a little pocket money for their own Christmas shopping, and you’ll have a few fewer tasks to worry about (and maybe a little extra time to relax!).
In next week’s post, we’ll continue our two-part series on beating holiday burnout. See you then!
Have you and your spouse experienced burnout or stress during the holidays? What did you do to reduce it? Add your ideas and stories to the comments section below.