Feeling Down and Disconnected? It Might Be December Burnout

Why aren’t I in a good mood even though the holidays are here? It could be end-of-year burnout. End-of-year deadlines, pressures to find the perfect gifts for loved ones, family stress, and endless social gatherings can all crash down on you. Let’s be real. Burnout can happen at any time of the year. However, there’s a specific dynamic in the works during December that sets many people up for burnout and breakdowns.

Most cases of burnout include a mix of stressors tied to your work life, personal life, and romantic life. The truth about end-of-year burnout is that it’s not just the result of all of the stresses of the month of December. End-of-year burnout actually begins back in January. Feelings of emotional exhaustion, detachment, lack of sense of personal accomplishment, and “drowning” all spiral from a year of:

  • Overworking to avoid your feelings.
  • Not putting up boundaries regarding your free time with your employer.
  • Overspending as a way to stay distracted.
  • Failing to resolve family dynamics that will now force you to sit across the table from a person you’re having tensions with during the holidays.
  • Not prioritizing diet and exercise because you don’t feel that you deserve wellness.

While end-of-year burnout is not exclusive to the workplace, workplace burnout is often one of the driving forces of burnout. While you’ve been showing up all year, you’ve been “absent” in all the ways that matter. When we experience workplace burnout, we no longer derive meaning or satisfaction from the challenging work that we do. We may experience deep resentment, cynicism, and negativity regarding our workplaces. However, burnout is far more than a mood. Burnout that is left unchecked will eventually create physical symptoms. Common burnout signs include:

  • Memory issues.
  • Loss of focus.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Body pain.
  • Anxiety.
  • Acute depression.
  • Neglect of hygiene and wellness.

According to a recent survey, the most common reasons for workplace burnout include unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workload, lack of role clarity, lack of communication and support, and unreasonable time pressure. If we are in a relationship, our workplace burnout inevitably creeps into that relationship. We may become hostile, distant, or dispassionate in our relationship due to our decreased emotional capacity.

What Can You Do If You Have Burnout?

It’s hard to shine brightly during the holidays when your bulb is burned out! Knowing that you have a strategy for making changes in the upcoming year can help you to feel empowered. I generally recommend against making any life-changing decisions during December. The flurry of excitement and emotions of this time of year make it a tough time for serious soul searching.

Set a date in the new year for making a decision about drastically changing some aspect of your professional or personal life. For example, you can commit to making a decision about quitting by a certain date. If your decision is to quit, you can plan to send out a certain number of applications by Feb. 31. This creates realistic goals without the need to feel like you have to change your life by Dec. 31 just to enjoy your holiday!