5 tips for avoiding social burnout during the festive season

By Kate Norris,
updated on Dec 13, 2023

5 tips for avoiding social burnout during the festive season

The Christmas season often becomes a whirlwind of social engagements and while it's important to let off steam, we can be left feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the pressure of preparations, parties and family expectations

It can be easy to overcommit yourself socially to events, particularly during the Christmas season, due to the fear of declining and appearing impolite or inconsiderate. However, new research reveals people often overestimate the social consequences of saying no and the negative ramifications are usually much less severe than we expect.

Following a survey of over 2,000 people, more than three-quarters of respondents (77%) admitted to accepting an invitation they didn’t want to attend due to being worried about the repercussions of declining.

Lead study author, Julian Givi, warns that giving in to this pressure can lead to social burnout, urging individuals not to be afraid to turn down invitations whilst also acknowledging that spending time with others is crucial for developing and maintaining relationships.

Although the Christmas break is supposed to be a chance to recharge your batteries, the pressures of the festive period can often lead to feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion for many. We share tips on how to set boundaries and avoid social burnout this year.

Learn to say no

It's important to remember that saying 'no' is not about abstaining from everything, but about taking back control. Recognise that politely declining does not make you a bad person and that prioritising your health and wellbeing should not cause conflict with others. Learning to say no, in fact, can be empowering and lead to improved self-esteem and relationships in the long run.

In this video, our Content Creator and podcast host, Kat Nicholls, shares a tip to help you say no when you need to.

@happiful_magazine What helps you say no when you need to? #howtosayno #tipstosayno #boundariesarenecessary ♬ time travel - chief. & nobuddy

Be honest

If you're anxious about declining an invite, you may be tempted to come up with an elaborate excuse. It's worth reminding yourself that listening to your gut and setting boundaries is a form of self-compassion.

Being transparent and saying something along the lines of “The party sounds really fun but I’m going to give it a miss this year as I’m feeling rather overwhelmed and need some time to relax. Let's catch up in the new year” is perfectly fine, and encourages you to recognise your limits and practise self-care.

Prioritise 'me time'

Many of us are already dealing with end-of-year burnout by the time Christmas arrives, which if left unaddressed can follow us into the new year. It is important to set aside moments each day for activities that help you recharge such as catching up on your favourite TV show, going for a walk, taking a long bath or cooking your favourite meal.


It's important to use your time off as a chance to restore your energy. In fact, you might even use the festive period as an opportunity for a digital detox. This may be particularly useful if seeing an overload of seasonal social media posts triggers feelings of FOMO and self-comparison.

Reach out

Remember, one of the most effective ways to avoid burnout is to communicate with others. If you’re struggling during the festive season, whether it’s mentally or financially, it can be helpful to speak with a therapist or life coach who can guide you in the right direction, manage your expectations and share self-help strategies to keep feelings of anxiety, stress, and worry away.

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