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As the frenzied pace of the festive season speeds up, it’s important to slow down and check in with yourself.

| By Erin Elizabeth | Wellness

End of Year Fatigue Is Real: Here's How to Manage It

As the frenzied pace of the festive season speeds up, it’s important to slow down and check in with yourself.

It’s December. The festive season is in full swing. Your Out-Of-Office message has been drafted. You’ve almost made it to the end of a 12-month calendar year with more twists and turns than the Succession finale. But instead of exhilaration, you just feel exhausted. And it’s not just your run-of-the-mill tiredness. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, under pressure, and altogether physically and psychologically depleted, you might have End of Year Fatigue.

As the name suggests, End of Year Fatigue (EOYF) is a common phenomenon many people experience as the year comes to a close and heightened work demands, year-end social obligations, and financial pressures intensify. But as the frenzied pace of the festive season speeds up, it’s important to slow down and check in with yourself.

While common self-care steps are always encouraged (sleeping well, eating a balanced diet, exercising etc), there are more specific ways to treat EOYF, including mindfulness practices. But don’t just take it from us – hear it from the experts. We spoke to Kirsten Forgione, psychologist and Co-Founder of Myndly, to gain some insight into End of Year Fatigue and how best to manage it.

What is End of Year Fatigue?

According to Kirsten, “End-of-year fatigue can manifest in several ways, both physically and psychologically. For instance, physically, you may feel an increased sense of exhaustion, muscle tension, and overall depletion. And, psychologically, you may experience increased stress, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.”

As workloads tend to increase toward the end of the year, with strict deadlines imposed to get everything done before the holiday break, it’s a good time to put some boundaries in place – including taking charge of your schedule and setting expectations. “Prioritise tasks strategically, focusing on the high-impact stuff first. Communicate clearly what can (and more importantly, what can’t) be done by end-of-year. And be steadfast in setting realistic boundaries with clarity and accountability,” Kirsten says.

How to treat End of Year Fatigue

Sharing and distributing responsibilities is also encouraged, as well as seeking social support where possible. “Share your concerns with trusted others, and ask for their advice, guidance, or encouragement.” And most importantly, prioritise your well-being through “practising self-compassion, being aware of negative self-talk, practising mindfulness, and being in the moment,” Kirsten says.

With many affected by the current cost of living crisis (or ‘Cozzie Livs’ as she’s affectionately known amongst friends), extra gift and holiday expenses can also throw a spanner in the works. Citing research in behavioural economics that suggests creating a detailed budget can help alleviate financial stress, Kirsten suggests “setting a spending limit for gifts and holiday expenses, prioritising essential items, and exploring cost-effective alternatives or DIY gifts.” It’s also helpful to spend mindfully. “Practising mindfulness can help individuals become more aware of their spending patterns, enabling them to make more deliberate and conscious purchasing decisions during the holiday season,” Kirsten explains.

And if physical gifts break the bank this year, positively pivot by giving the gift of an experience instead, which reduce financial strain while enhancing emotional connections. “Studies in positive psychology suggest that prioritising experiences over material possessions leads to greater long-term happiness. Challenge societal pressures (“psychological restructuring”) and reassess the true value and impact of gifts on relationships, aiming for meaningful gestures rather than extravagant spending,” she says.

How to deal with end of year anxiety

And while the holiday season is a time to celebrate and get together with family and friends, it can be difficult for some of us who have complex or strained relationships. For anyone experiencing anxiety about the social expectations of this time of year, Kirsten has some solid advice. First and foremost, build your coping ‘toolkit.’ “Anticipate social interactions by preparing some strategies for navigating them. For instance, relaxation exercises, positive affirmations, or grounding techniques to use before, during, and after gatherings.” Next, “establish an 'Exit Strategy' by creating an exit plan to manage overwhelming situations. Knowing you have an option to leave if needed can provide a sense of control and alleviate stress,” she says.

With everyone’s current To-Do-Lists growing longer than a Scorsese film, now mightn’t seem like the time to add a new task – but if you’re experiencing EOYF, practising mindfulness needs to take out the top spot.

Wanting to get started right now? Here’s a quick mindfulness activity Myndly love to help relieve stress:

1. Find a comfortable position: Sit or lie down, keeping your spine straight but relaxed. Close your eyes, or simply soften your gaze.

2. Focus on your breathing: Begin by taking a few natural breaths, noticing the sensation of the breath entering and leaving your body. Feel the rise and fall of your chest or the sensation of the breath passing through you.

3. Breathe deeply: Gradually start to take deeper breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Pay attention to the full cycle of each breath.

4. Counting breaths: As you breathe, count each cycle of inhalation and exhalation. For example, count silently "inhale, one... exhale, two...," and so on, up to ten. If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to the breath and start counting from one again.

5. Body scan: After counting ten breath cycles, do a quick body scan. Starting from your toes, consciously relax each part of your body as you move up toward your head. Notice any tension and release it with each exhale.

6. Return to natural breathing: Let go of the counting and allow your breath to return to its natural rhythm. Stay in this relaxed state for a few more moments, being present and aware of your body and surroundings.

7. End with gratitude: When you're ready, gently bring your awareness back to the present moment. Take a moment to acknowledge something you're grateful for before slowly opening your eyes or returning to your activities.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualised health advice. If you are concerned about your health and well-being, please speak to your GP, who will advise on the correct treatment plan. You can also call Lifeline 24/7 for mental health support on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

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