It’s here again – the most wonderful time of the year! Most of us are starting to wind down before the last week at work and are looking forward to spending a well-deserved break with friends and family.

Yet for many people, Christmas can be a testing time mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. After the past few years, there is a great deal of fatigue as a legacy from the pandemic – and just when we thought we were through it, we have an economic and energy crisis to contend with.

At People Matters HR, one of the North West’s leading HR consultancies, we want to spread the message that it’s okay if you’re not feeling full of joy during the festive season – and that there are plenty of things that you can do to support your mental health. With the help of Able Futures, we’ve put together a guide about how to avoid festive burn out.

Say no to the things you don’t need to do
The festive season can feel overwhelming with too much to do. It’s OK to say no to things. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, look through the things you’ve been invited to or activities you’ve been asked to do before the end of the year. Is there anything you can postpone – delegate – or simply say “no” to? and on days that seem too much, say no to something. The people around you will understand if you explain that you need to balance your energy and attention across the Christmas period and you’ll no doubt find that you are more present and focused on the things you go ahead with.

Get enough sleep
This isn’t new information. Sleep is as essential to our bodies and our brains as eating, drinking and breathing.
However – it’s party season! Late, often boozy nights are the norm at this time of year and sleep is not the priority.
Then when we actually do get in bed, a buzzing mind can cause issues getting a good night’s sleep – and then we struggle to feel well if we have sleep problems. Our mental health can be affected if we don’t get the sleep we need, and mental health problems can sometimes make it more difficult to get good sleep. It’s a vicious circle, so it’s a good idea to try to avoid too many late nights.

Try something new after work
Feeling stressed out? Try something out of the ordinary! Doing something new shows your brain that things can be different and this can help you feel able to reset thinking patterns that may be making us feel bad. Try something new like walking a different way home from work, sitting at a different desk or or booking yourself onto a online class. It’s a break from the norm – and the chaos that often comes with Christmas.

Eat the right things
We get it – it’s very difficult to be healthy all the time at this time of year. Yet sometimes what we choose to eat and drink is not as healthy as we would like it to be, and this means our brains and bodies do not have the vitamins and minerals they need to work at their best. We can feel sluggish or low, find it difficult to get good sleep, struggle to learn new skills and feel down about ourselves.
We’re not suggesting keeping to a strict diet for all of the Christmas period – but we are suggesting you have a limit. A good rule of thumb is to go for it when you have a planned social event – but resist falling in to the “forget it, it’s Christmas” mindset.

Schedule some you time
Make a date in the diary and schedule some time for you this Christmas. Whether it’s a regular daily time to take a break to have a cuppa and spend a few minutes thinking about things that are important to you or a full afternoon to take time away from work or family or chores, scheduling time for yourself this festive season is super important. It’s an excellent way to ensure you’re able to focus on what’s important to you and therefore capable of managing the rest of your time in a way that delivers the Christmas you want.

Tie up the loose ends at work before the holidays
Before you log off for Christmas, have a think ahead to January. Get a to do list together and prioritise things in order of deadlines and urgency. This will stop you thinking about what you have on while you are on your festive break, and will also enable you to hit the ground running in the new year.
Taking just 10 minutes will help you box things off and finish the year clear headed.

Reach out if you need to
We appreciate that this can be a busy time of year – but there is support available if you need to reach out. We’ve rounded up some great articles and websites as a starting point.


Mental health
Mind charity
Heads together
The Samaritans