Feeling tired and burnt out after Christmas? If so, you’re not alone! Festive fizzle-out is all too real, and despite being minimalist, I often suffer from it myself.
Perhaps it’s exhaustion from the shopping and the worrying about what to get the people in your life. Maybe it’s the fear of logging into your bank account after the festive splurge? Are you exhausted from spending time with people you don’t get along with?
Or did you do too much? Like me, perhaps you fell into the trap of perfectionism and tried to create the perfect Christmas only for it to fall short of everything you pictured. And then there’s the overindulgence on food, chocolate and possibly alcohol, pushing the guilt aside until January and feeling disgustingly sluggish.
Don’t worry, I’m guilty too of all of the above, but this year I’ve felt the crash particularly bad.
As I fell back down to Earth from all the spingly spangly lights, the promise of lit up eyes from the perfect gifts, and the rush of last minute shopping, I realised with horror that once again I had fallen into the trappings of a commercial Christmas and the empty promises that go with it.
I was particularly vulnerable to trying to buy happiness this year because I’ve been going through a lot of change and have faced some challenges, as we all have. The world has been an uncertain place, fear of the pandemic, people losing loved ones, losing jobs, losing their identity. Mere months ago, I lost a dear elderly friend and Christmas reminded me of how I always paid her a visit.
I felt sad and lost but decided to indulge hard in the festivities instead.
I’m also in the middle of training to become a counsellor and recently made the huge decision to leave the city school I was supporting at for the past twelve years, as I got a job at a local school. I just couldn’t justify the long commute anymore then not being able to spend time with my young children when I got home.
Neither could I justify staying in my comfort zone when I’ve been doing everything in my power to grow and to change my life.
My final day was a week before Christmas and the whole time I panicked incase I caught Covid and couldn’t be there to say goodbye. After all, it appeared that teachers and students were dropping like flies and I had already caught Covid once.
Take a guess at how I dealt with all this uncertainty.
That’s right. I bought Christmas decorations I didn’t need, browsed the shops and Amazon for the perfect gifts, and treated myself to gluten-free ale, which I drank to cope with the uncertainty and the sadness of leaving my job, and the sadness of my friend not being here.
Even when you know you’re doing something for the right reasons, it can still be excruciatingly difficult to go through the grief-like emotions and leave your comfort zone. Because saying goodbye to the children and staff I had bonded with over the years was incredibly tough and has left me with something akin to grief as I work towards a planned yet unknowable future.
A future which requires a new me all over again.
My school saw all kinds of versions of me, which is probably another reason it’s been so tough to let go. Yet as far as minimalism goes, I found myself regressing and regretting.
Once again I wanted the perfect Christmas to get rid of the horrendously sad feelings, determined that it would be even better than the last, and would match the cheer of the online images, statuses, and advertisements. So I bought several colours of nail polish (even though I rarely wear it), a new Christmas jumper and dress, new decorations, and took part in rampant gift-buying.
Of course, when Christmas comes and goes like any other day of the year, when the same old arguments ensue, the same chaos with over-excited kids, and you have new stuff exploding in the corners of every room, and the same old financial stresses, the stuff doesn’t seem so shiny anymore.
The kids aren’t any happier, the decor is all going to get stuffed back away in the darkness of the attic (except now there’s even more of it), and where the hell are you going to store the leaning tower of selection boxes and new toys?
That’s when depression and fatigue sets in. And that’s the point when I usually vow to do things differently the following year.
When I remember that I have done exactly what the companies wanted me to do. Chase a fairytale dream so that they can get richer while everyone else gets poorer (not to mention the poor souls on the streets who have this all rubbed in their faces).
And then there’s the sickeningly full bins overflowing with wrapping paper and packaging from just that one day. Most of it destined to rot in landfill.
This year, however, I’ve truly decided. And there’s a difference between making a vow and making an actual decision. One which has the potential to shape your life.
My decision muscles have been growing, I’ve decided that next year will not only be another year of huge changes as I pursue further training and finish my driving lessons, but will be the year when I finally say no to the stresses of the holidays start re-writing my own expectations, and clear the damaging fog of perfection away.
Next year will be a true minimalist Christmas. The year I buy a select few meaningful gifts. Gifts which can truly make people smile like a voucher for a well-deserved evening out or a trip to the cinema (it was a bit iffy to do that this year with the Covid).
So if you’re feeling the burnout and it’s all a little too much, remember to do something kind for yourself, take some time out, and realise that it’s never too late to make a decision. To make changes that will shape who you are and fit with your true values.
It’s never too late to craft the reality you want, but you must learn to recognise it among the noise of the reality the companies and marketers want you to have. That everybody else may be pressuring you to have.
What’s beneath all of the noise for you?