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Coping with end-of-year burnout

It’s that time of year. You’re chomping at the bit for the holidays to start but are seriously wondering whether you’ll make it without burning out. It’s been a massive 2023 and you’re on the edge. How to cope?

Many of us feel super stressed before we start our well-deserved break at the end of each year. Energy levels are low, and we can feel irritable. What’s challenging is deciding the best way to tackle the potential burnout.

The good news is there are practical tips to help you move through the rest of December without crashing.

This week’s expert article shares some of our top tips.

Get your priorities right

Assess what’s on your plate and be ruthlessly realistic about what you can achieve before the holidays. A quick audit is the best start.

What is truly urgent and can’t wait? What can wait until the new year, even if you’d ideally like to start your break with a clean slate? A great idea is to dissect large projects and divide them into smaller components. It could be essential to complete some milestones, but perhaps others can comfortably wait.

If you’re struggling, chat to your manager about setting priorities, given the number of weeks left in the calendar year. Then focus solely on what’s essential and erase all other tasks from your mind until 2024.

Read more:

How to turn unproductive into productive

Exercise self-care to cope

 While you’re in a better place now that you’ve set your priorities, you may still feel overwhelmed. Self-care (or lack thereof) is a huge factor in managing end-of-year burnout. Do your best to:

  • Eat well—ditch junk food for lighter meals featuring fruit and veg.
  • Stay hydrated—drink plenty of water and monitor your alcohol intake.
  • Christmas parties—get out there and enjoy life but don’t overdo it by being the last person at the party to leave.
  • Prioritise sleep—although tempting to work late into the night and on weekends, it’s better to hit the sack and zzzzz.
  • Practice breathing—regular deep breathing will help you feel calm and more in control. Search breathing exercises online.
  • Get fresh air—now’s the time to take breaks during the work day. Walk outside. Even short, a 10-minute stroll will work wonders.

Read more: How to spot and act on burnout

 Ask for help

It’s true that everyone in the office is running to get to the finish line this time of year, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking for help (being reasonable of course). Think about these potential solutions:

  • Delegate—Is it possible to delegate some work to relieve the pressure, even small but time-consuming administrative tasks?
  • Suggest temporary help—Can you pitch to your organisation that bringing in temporary help can be cost-effective and help you (and perhaps others) to make that final push?
  • Internal support—Can you reach out to colleagues and your manager to brainstorm ways you can gain greater efficiencies?
  • External support—Why not talk to family and friends about your stress load to see if they have ideas? If not, at least they’ll better understand your state of mind.
  • Talk to your Employee Assistance Program or Human Resources—Can you tap into an Employee Assistance Program or experts in your Human Resources department, knowing that even talking out loud about what you’re facing may make you feel somewhat better?

Respect work-life boundaries

During the last weeks of 2023, set and respect healthy work-life boundaries. Avoid checking your work phone after hours. Refrain from continually checking emails after work hours. Unplug and reset.

This may involve communicating your boundaries to work colleagues. Explain where you’re at and outline your need for quality downtime outside of 9 to 5, from now until you sign off for the year.

Read more: Tips for achieving work-life balance

Don’t feel guilty

Although you may be concerned that you’re leaving for the break but haven’t finished everything that’s on your plate, don’t weigh yourself down with negative emotions. It’s not like you’ve solely created the massive workload you’re facing. And will the world end if you shut your office door on 2023 without everything completed 100%?

Enjoy your break

When you finally get there … and are on break, don’t spend your time off thinking about work and what you need to progress when you return to the office in 2024.

Push all work-related matters out of your mind and enjoy family, friends and summertime. This will ensure you get the most out of your holidays and—importantly— return to the office in the New Year feeling refreshed and recharged.

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