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Being on leave and stuck with family during the festive season can be stressful. Kids are bored and need attention.  Everything costs money, there are also family members who are angry and irritable or even abusive and children and women are stuck at home with them 24/7 without the relief of school or work.

Festive Season Blues Is a Real Thing

People who are lonely dread the lack of colleague interaction as well as being alone during the festive season and New year.

A recent Gallup poll found that 70% of the workforce was either disengaged or miserable. An uncertain labor market, work overload, and nudging thoughts of career changes are enough to have you thinking about jumping on the next sleigh away from the office.

Whichever way you look at it, people are tired. COVID-19 has been the longest trauma, collective post-traumatic stress that is still affecting people financially and emotionally. With a bunch of poor service delivery drizzled on top of this, people are emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted.

Don’t get stuck in survival mode

We’re warned of an impending recession that is still coming our way, and now we need to find some jolly to get through the festive season. So, the usual “New Year New Me” resolutions for January seem to be stacked away in the mental rollerdex. It feels to me that everyone is still in survival mode!

We all know about balance and how we should take time to rest properly, go for a walk or get into nature, etc. When you’re stuck in survival mode, those things take a backseat. However, if we don’t look after our mental health, the cost is far greater than taking time out for ourselves now. 

Here are six tips to keep your stress levels under control this festive season:

  1. Manage your expectations. Not everything needs to be perfect. Don’t try to force them to be – you’ll just set yourself up for failure.
  2. Try to set aside differences. Difficult family members or colleagues won’t change – acknowledge this, but don’t let it get to you. Go for a walk, or a drive if you need a time out, but try to set differences aside as much as possible to keep the peace in your home and work life.
  3. Don’t overspend. If you need to spend money on festive season expenses, write up a budget and stick to it; remember that a holiday, gifts, or get-togethers don’t need to break the bank.
  4. Plan ahead. Part of the stress is leaving things to the last minute. By managing your time properly, you can avoid the last-minute rush and added stress when it comes to meeting deadlines and planning festive season activities.
  5. Keep yourself healthy. Remember to keep fit and stick to a healthy diet during this last part of the year. Get enough sleep as this will give you more energy to get through; stress and depression can be aggravated by poor diet, lack of sleep, and little exercise.
  6. Acknowledge how you feel. If you’ve lost a loved one or are separated from them, it’s normal to feel grief and to cry, particularly around this time of year and when stress levels are generally higher. Don’t bottle it up, speak to your friends and family about how you feel. 

Don’t let the end of the year get the better of you. There are ways to cope with stress and feelings of loneliness. 

Remember, if you are struggling and finding it difficult to cope, speak to a counselor or therapist. Contact your employee assistance program to find out what’s right for you. You don’t need to suffer alone.

You can say NO

Another way to help reduce stress at this time of the year is to learn to say no!

What if you declined a dinner invite or said no to an event your ex would be at, or even just said no to anything? This might leave you feeling a little selfish or guilty.

It doesn’t matter if you’re emotionally and physically exhausted, or if your mental health is suffering. You might lie awake in bed, thinking about how you should have done something differently or been better in some other way. Saying no feels like a failure like you’re incompetent or unequipped to handle the situation, You might worry about how it affects the other person.

Milk Thistle Holiday Hangover

Prioritize yourself

But if saying NO helps you prioritize yourself and your own energy and healing, are you really being selfish?

Even though it’s defined as being concerned only with your own personal pleasure and profit, as well as lacking consideration for others, we still think of selfishness as the times when we’re simply putting ourselves first.

We’re told we need to adjust our own oxygen masks first before helping others in a plane emergency. Or make sure the scene is safe for you before helping anyone who’s hurt. No one would call us selfish for following those instructions.

Sometimes the right thing is to be “selfish.” Don’t define your actions on other people’s judgments.


1. You need help in any way

Don’t avoid asking for it! If getting help from a co-worker, psychologist, friend, or companion helps you stress less or feel better, this is going to be good for your stress levels and ultimately your mental health. 

2. You need to rest

When you’re feeling tired — it doesn’t matter if it’s emotionally, mentally, or physically — it’s time to rest. Sometimes, that just comes down to sleep.

Lack of sleep can cause trouble focusing, a weakened immune system, and memory issues and headaches. We often feel like we have to keep going. Sometimes sleep isn’t at the top of our priorities. Forcing yourself to be with others when you’re exhausted is also tiring.

3. You just need alone time

Social interactions can be exhausting for some people. There’s no shame in taking time for yourself.

If you’ve been going nonstop, your mood is all out of whack, or you need to re-evaluate your relationships, now may be a good time to plan some alone time.

4. It’s time to end a relationship, job, or living situation

It’s never easy breaking up with a significant other, moving to a new city, or quitting a job. If you feel bad when you interact with someone or dread encountering them again, it’s time to rethink your relationship.

We typically stay in friendships or relationships because we’re scared of hurting someone. But when it comes to relationships that are damaging, sometimes you need to put yourself first.

Balance of give-and-take

It’s not self-sustaining to continue a relationship — or job or anything, especially one that’s in any way abusive — that no longer makes you happy. If something is affecting your well-being, it might be time to say goodbye.

The balance of give-and-take is especially important when living with someone. Do you find yourself doing all the errands and chores when you get home from work, while they come home and put their feet up? It’s essential to have balance to avoid both resentment and fatigue.

30s | Longevity LIVE


Depending on the situation, you may choose to talk to them, take a short break to recharge, find a way to schedule or delegate chores or cut them out completely. It’s not selfish to prioritize your own needs over others if the act of giving is causing you more harm.

6. To avoid burnout, after work or in your personal life

Everyone is susceptible to burnout or work exhaustion. Certain professions can be exceptionally draining. When burnout occurs, it can hurt both your professional and personal life.

So, when the clocking-out time comes, truly clock out. No matter what you do, make sure you have time to separate yourself from work. Creating this work-life balance can help you avoid burnout and bring more happiness to your personal life.

  • Take care of yourself.
  • Don’t neglect yourself and your health to avoid feeling selfish. 
  • You can reduce your stress by being a little selfish now and then and practicing some good ol’ self-care.


  • First, analyze if you want to do the thing suggested or not. If you’re not sure – tell the person you will get back to them. 
  • You don’t have to answer anyone immediately. If you don’t know what to say, I tell them I have to rush to the loo and chat when I get back. Then I can think it through without any pressure.
  • Take the word “You” away when answering – make everything about yourself instead – That doesn’t work for me – I need dishes to be done/I think, I want, I feel… instead of saying something like: You’ve left dishes everywhere.
  • Give the other person options that work for you – people are quite lazy and usually go with one option, it’s not often that they will ask for more alternatives: l can’t meet you tonight, but I could have coffee with you on Monday or lunch next Sat – what works for you? What do you think?  
  • Do some neurofeedback sessions to handle boundaries better, de-stress, get better sleep and recoup from this hectic year and family stress over the festive season.

Whatever you do, remember to take care of yourself. And don’t forget, it’s never selfish to do so.

Kerry Rudman

Kerry Rudman

Kerry Rudman is the owner of Brain Harmonics and currently based in Johannesburg, she is passionate about this business, helping people, and results.  It took her years to find a modality that she could fully stand behind.


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