Seasonal Stress Takes a Toll on High Achievers
As a high achiever and someone who “works around the clock”, stress is second nature to you.
Your day starts at the crack of dawn and ends when it’s dark outside. Your busy work life leads to significant expectations placed upon you. Especially at Christmas – you have to juggle your responsibilities on the home front, help with seasonal preparations, fulfil family commitments during the holidays and attend important social events.
This would be difficult at the best of times, but it only gets harder around the Christmas holidays. The delicate balance is easy to be tipped over around now. On some level, you believe this added stress is temporary and hope that it will pass. But for now, you’re more prone to sickness and tiredness because your body is physically run down.
You wonder to yourself if the stress you’re feeling now will just go away after Christmas or if it’s something bigger you need to get a hold of because you’re always on the brink of burnout.
Your Mental Health Goals This Holiday Season and Beyond
You want to enjoy Christmas. This includes having the time and energy to join in with everyone and be able to do all the things that bring you happiness. (This may include generous helpings of mulled wine and mince pies.)
You’re well aware that it’s important to have some proper rest and relaxation before starting back up again in the New Year. Especially at this time of year when you’re meant to get to grips with your rising stress levels. You can’t risk burning out now. Perhaps this feels like a good time to make an early New Year’s Resolution because you want to be more on top of things and feel less stressed moving forward.
Self-Care at Christmas – Mindset Solutions for Workaholics Who Give, Give, Give
Let’s talk about self-care in terms of mindset (not just the little treats you give yourself or indulge in – like chocolates, candles and bubble baths).
Real self-care goes beyond escapism from your everyday reality. It’s about becoming aware of your relationship with “doing” and how you approach everyday life.
When you think about self-care, you may think to yourself, “I should do more of this and less of that.” Instead of adding more pressure on yourself with “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” take a moment to reflect on your current mindset. When you fully understand the way you approach work, rest and play, then can you take the right-for-you steps needed for real self-care.
Which mindset do you identify with most? And what does this mindset look like over Christmas?
The “I need to take responsibility for everything” Mindset
- You are an active participant and involved in all or most Christmas festivities with family, friends and colleagues at work.
- Does the part of you that holds high expectations, desires control and nit-picks over the finer details come into play at Christmas?
- Are you taking a passive or active role in the seasonal activities? For example, taking a lead on the menu, decorations and social event organisation?
- How does this mirror the way you usually work and take responsibility in activities when it’s not Christmas? (I bet there’s a link!)
- What would it be like if this year if you delegated some responsibilities to someone else, sent some e-cards instead of handwriting everything, or shared the menu planning and cooking with others?
Key Takeaway: It’s important to re-evaluate your expectations and make room for flexibility and spontaneity. It’s also okay to let go of some responsibility and let others take charge from time to time.
The “I need to be there for everyone” Mindset
- You’re known as the helper in the family and in your peer groups. You may even manage a team of people who rely on you for your support and decision-making skills.
- Even in personal family and social situations during the Christmas period, you’re invited to a lot of different gatherings. When a family disagreement comes up, you are always the one intervening. Essentially, you take on the peacemaker role. Everyone always wants a piece of you and you give it to them!
- How much can you actually give? Can you be okay with not being there for everyone all the time? Do you believe they will survive without you and can you temporarily lay down your role as a rescuer?
- What would it be like if this year, you said no to the non-urgent and unimportant things? And be more mindful to step away from things that would overstretch you?
- You know not everything is a problem for you to solve. So what would it be like to make plans and seek support for yourself by calling on a friend to help if you know you’ll likely feel emotionally overwhelmed again at Uncle John’s party?
Key Takeaway: It’s important to think about what it is that people seek you for, and for you to be clear in your own mind what you can and can’t do for others. If guilt sets in when you say no or take time for yourself, check to see how you respond to this feeling. Do you forget your needs and go on doing more to get rid of your guilt, or can you respect your needs and work through this initial uncomfortable feeling?
The “I need to shut everything off and everyone out” Mindset
- You do so much, and to others, you manage it all so well. However, at different times in your life when you reach a point of high stress, you are prone to shutting down. This is especially relevant during Christmas. When you know you can’t do it all, it’s very possible that you drop all the balls you’ve been juggling. When this happens, it can feel awful and leaves you feeling like a failure.
- This results in you doing the complete opposite. You hide because of your feelings of failure and the guilt and shame that comes with it. For example, you may avoid or push people away, and you completely crash.
- Running away when it gets too much is a telling sign that your brain and body are on overdrive. You can’t take on any more tasks or deal with anyone.
- Deep down it’s actually really hard to understand how stress and self-care can possibly go hand-in-hand with the way you’ve been working.
- What would it be like if this year, you took things at a slower pace, committed to one less responsibility or delegated tasks to someone else? You can safely step away from needing to perfect things that don’t really need to be perfect. Tell someone you trust that you need a little support before things build up and communicate how you’d like them to support you.
Key Takeaway: It’s important to find different ways to be kind to yourself, to nurture yourself and work on accepting who you are. Take some time at the end of the year to celebrate all your achievements before moving swiftly onto the next new thing.
Seasonal Stress: Mental Health Solutions at Your Fingertips
If you can relate to the topics raised in this article, don’t despair. There are many ways to minimise your stress this holiday season.
When you take time to reflect on your mindset, plan and take action with support from people who care about you – it is possible to experience a less stressful and more manageable Christmas.
There’s Help All Around You – Remember You Can:
- Take some of the burden off yourself and use your own support network. Hand over responsibility to someone else and phone a friend when you’re in need of help.
- Try some new digital tools to help you when you feel the stress levels rise, such as the popular meditation and relaxation app ‘Calm’.
- Nurture yourself in ways that make you happy and celebrate all your wins this year. Whatever you choose, make it less of a task and more of a treat.
With a mindful approach, you can make this upcoming holiday season one to remember… for all the right reasons.
Begin Stress and Burnout Therapy in London
For high achieving adults, stress and burnout is a commonplace and will continue to be a problem if you shy away from addressing it. Ignoring your problems may feel easier right now but it won’t erase or bring peace to the uncomfortable feelings that are hard to express. If deep down you know you are burying your feelings – it may be that you are covering experiences of trauma by keeping busy. Regardless of how deep your stress may go, you know that you are hurting yourself and your relationships. Whatever your reasons for reading this are, if you’re someone feeling stressed out and are about to burnout, I can help you.
You do not have to manage this stress all on your own.
When you are ready to take control of your life, I am here to help you. We can meet for counselling in Angel or Farringdon, at your convenience. If you are ready to let go of your stress, find a better work/life balance and feel more connected with your loved ones, I can help.
Let’s get started with a free 20 minute therapy consultation over the phone. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
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