Auntie Says...

Christmas Overload. It’s Really Okay if you Don’t Like the Holidays. Sometimes It’s Too Much for Anyone.

Do You Suffer from Christmas or Holiday Overload?

The holidays mean something different to everyone and sensory and emotional overload is a real thing. Whether it’s the Christmas lights, the food, or presents… Sometimes it’s overwhelming and unwanted and we forget that it really is okay to step back. Christmas overload looks different for all, so let’s take a look at particular situations.

What Does Christmas Overload Look Like?

Source: Unsplash. Mariana Roscao.

Christmas overload is similar to that overwhelming feeling of not wanting to be a part of the entire process. For some who suffer from depression or anxiety, this time of year is overly stimulating, exhausting, and demanding.

If you find yourself drained, withdrawn, and uninterested, you’re not alone.

Over the past few years, with Covid, it’s been difficult to travel and get together with family. Now that restrictions have eased, some are going over the top with plans, parties, and the new found freedoms.

Whatever your Christmas looks like and regardless of where you are in the world, be aware of where you fit in and be cognizant of your mental health. It’s so important to make sure you don’t go overboard with the overload.

The food, the drinking, the decor, the constant go go go… By the time it gets to New Years you may not even be able to stay awake til midnight to usher it in. Be aware of where the overload can hit. Here are some examples.

Eating Overload

Source: Unsplash Dilyana Garifullina

Why, or why do we do it to ourselves? Every year we swear we’ll cut back on the treats or rich food, but somehow those decisions fall away at the first holiday party full of wonderful cheeses, squares, and other Christmas treats.

Will you do the same again this year? It’s always nice to feel at least a sense of control at the holidays. Keep in mind that horrible bloated feeling of having overeaten. Don’t wait until January to start a resolution diet–it doesn’t work. Start practicing now.

Too many use the holidays as an excuse to just go wild and crazy with the calories, the sugar, and the (sometimes) sickeningly rich food.

Drinking Overload

Just like eating, the holidays brings out the over-indulgence of alcohol too. Often the food and booze go hand in hand which not only brings on overload, but also regret the next day.

Remember, alcohol is a depressant and you’ll end up feeling worse. It’s easy to get swept up in the sentiment of the evening or season, but also has consequences with your physical and mental well-being.

If either or both eating and drinking overload, are of concern during the holidays, then it’s good to go in with a plan. One thing that is easy, no one will question, and still lets you indulge is what I call the Water In Between.

Source: Unsplash @krakeimages

What this means is that after every alcoholic drink, you have a full 10 oz glass of water. Sip and finish it before the next drink. Then after the next drink you do water again. This will help keep you hydrated and cut the drinking in half.

You can do the same for eating too. If you want to have a dessert, absolutely go for it, but before you have a second or a third… have that large glass of water between each serving.

This gives you time to digest, as well as, have a quick talk with yourself as to whether you really want that second piece. Try it. You have nothing to lose.

People Overload

Christmas for many, means having to be around too many people. It’s a time of extended family, crowded malls, and constant chatter.

While some people get all caught up in the holiday spirit, there are many who suffer with social anxiety, chronic fatigue, or a simple dislike of ‘people’.

No matter what triggers your people overload, know that it’s okay to walk away, turn down invitations, or stay home. So long as you’re not putting yourself in a position of dangerous self isolation (let’s face it, it’s not healthy to always be alone or on the commuter… ), you’re an adult, then the choice is yours.

Source: Unsplash Svetozar Cenisev

Maybe what you need to do is set limits. You don’t have to go to every party or after work social. Pick and choose. Set time limits and make sure you get lots of slee

Reaching out via social media or zoom can also be overwhelming but isn’t the same as being in close quarters. So that, may be a solution if you choose to stay home.

Presents/Shopping Overload

Whether it be the Secret-Santa at work, buying for your fifteen year old niece who you’ve met twice, or the pressure of getting something for your parents who already have everything.

Ugh. Holiday shopping and gift-giving are stressful and highly over rated. If going to the mall, or shopping online just gets to be too much, then step back and take the pressure off.

Gift cards are useful…whether for coffee, groceries, or a boutique. Don’t go crazy and spend too much. It’s lost in the shuffle of overload and isn’t important.

And if you don’t want presents, tell people, opt out of the Secret Santa, or withdraw from drawing names. No guilt.

Covid Overload

This is a big one right now.

Unless everyone at the party or dinner is on the same page, this is a topic that should be avoided. Opinions on vaccines, government conspiracies, the virus itself, and the stupidity of both sides according to both sides… Avoid…Avoid…Avoid.

There’s been too much news, numbers, and noise around covid for too long, don’t let it take over your Christmas chitchat.

Expectation Overload

The expectations that we place on ourselves over the holidays can be overwhelming.

Things like:

  • getting the perfect gift
  • cleaning the house
  • decorating the house
  • decorating the outside
  • having the best outfit to wear
  • cooking
  • baking
  • singing
  • playlists
  • hair/make up
  • family photos
  • always being cheerful and thankful
  • gorgeous wrapping
  • a balanced and wonderful looking tree
  • shoveled driveway
  • being “on” all the time
  • showing up at every work, friend, and family event
  • getting all the holiday shopping done
  • grocery shopping too

What other expectations can you think of? It seems like it never really ends.

Be aware of where the expectations come from. Are you placing them on yourself or are they requests and pressures from others?

Stepping back and taking a break really is okay if you’re on overload. The thing is that when we get bogged down in expectation, it can paralyze us in moving forward. That’s not a very nice feeling and one that you should avoid.

Step back. It really is okay.

Auntie Lesson:

Christmas overload is a real thing. Not everyone is in the holiday spirit or even wants to be, and that’s okay. I wouldn’t want you to isolate in an unhealthy way but perhaps take it a little easier on yourself and your expectations. Step back. Pick and choose what you’ll participate in and enjoy the holiday season your way.


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