How To Avoid Holiday Burnout, FOMO, Ghosting, and Family Dysfunction

Xmas BulldogHow will you avoid Holiday Burnout this year? Some people travel to a faraway island. Others fear missing out on “the best” party of the year, or worse yet, not being invited! Still, others will hibernate and not answer their phone. This year, make sure your holiday experience comes from what you want, not what you need to avoid.

Holidays are a tough time and many people suffer holiday burnout. For some, it is about the family dysfunction that rears its ugly head each year. For others, it’s about money and avoiding the obligation to buy a lot of gifts. And for some people it may be a time where you feel being invited to social events determines your worth to others.

So how do you survive the holidays unscathed? The bottom line is to prioritize your time and money in terms of your own values. Below are some examples of challenging holiday situations and some options to make them easier for you.

Holiday Burnout

  • Work-related pressure: Holiday burnout can come from attending events because it feels like it’s the “right thing to do”. In work situations we must also consciously think about the consequences of not attending. Most people feel pressure to attend work parties, and choose to go even though they don’t want to. But you still have options. Maybe you can invite someone along to help you feel more comfortable. Or you might stay for only part of the party, saying you have another commitment to attend.
  • Afraid to tell someone you can’t attend their event? Social pressure can easily lead to Holiday Burnout. It’s important to prioritize your time, just like it is with your finances. You may not realistically be able to attend every single event. If this is the case, you will need to prioritize which event means the most to you. Sometimes, as hard as we try, we still can’t make everything work as we would like. And, the holidays are often when people get sick. So you need to manage your time wisely. What has more value to you? And why? Because you truly want to go to that event? Or is it because you want to be seen as popular, but inside you feel you probably won’t enjoy it as much as another event. Again, most often, the right people will understand, and if they don’t, are they really the right people for you? When you finally decide, don’t leave your preferences out of the picture out of fear of letting someone down. This said, there are going to be times when we do need to attend an event because it is the “right” thing to do. For example, you have already committed to attending. Perhaps you can leave a bit early.
  • Spending an inordinate time trying to find the “perfect” gifts: For some people, Christmas is about giving and receiving gifts. If this is the case, there can be a built-in pressure about finding the “perfect” gift for each person. After all, you want to look good, and feel appreciated, right? Well, you can run around like a crazy person trying to find the “best” gift that everyone will admire, but for what purpose? To “look good” to others? Or to please someone beyond just getting them a regular gift? Pressure, pressure, pressure. What will that get you? The “right” people will value you because of who you are. Not what you buy for them.

Fear of Missing Out: FOMO

  • For some, this is a real thing. They love social events, and the energy they get from the other people that makes them feel alive, and a part of events. People who have this believe if they don’t attend they might miss out on a special event that others will talk about and they will feel left out.
  • For others, they may feel unimportant to those around them if they don’t attend. Maybe they fear others won’t “miss” them not attending. This can lead to them feeling less valued by others, which can translate to their own sense of worth.
  • Either situation can lead to holiday burnout from a whirlwind of parties and events. Avoid holiday burnout by looking inside yourself and make choices based on what is ultimately good for you. Carefully choose to spend your time with the “right” people.


  • Avoiding Potential Conflict: Some people are afraid of letting others down. They have trouble saying “no” to others. They don’t trust the relationship to be secure and sometimes they’ve learned that to feel valued, they must please those around them. This often comes from family dynamics. They feel that not answering is safer than saying “no”, so they kind of stay “low”, out of sight, avoiding contact, not answering their phone.
  • If this fits you, rather than avoiding the phone calls, maybe you can just tell them you are not going because you don’t like big events. Or perhaps you are feeling tired from work, etc and don’t feel up to being around a lot of people. Or tell them you are suffering from holiday burnout.
  • I’m not talking about completely withdrawing from everyone and all events. That can be unhealthy. But sometimes we really are uncomfortable or would not enjoy certain events. Remember, you have a right to have your own preferences. Parties are not for everyone. But this also doesn’t mean you hide away in your cave from everyone.

Family Dysfunction

  • Every family has their own dynamics. Some good, some not so good and downright unhealthy. If unhealthy dynamics rule your family there are some good options to avoid this kind of holiday burnout.
  • You are not alone if there tend to be some arguments at family events that make you uncomfortable. If it happens at the table, you can excuse yourself and use the restroom. If it involves you directly then this is more challenging. Do the best you can. If someone is being sarcastic or unkind you can try to let it go, and be the “bigger person”. And you can bring it up another time when it is just between you and the rude person. But just know it needs to be resolved or it will erode the relationship. How important is this person to you? If you don’t feel it is worth working through the conflict you can let it go.
  • Holidays and your mate: Every family has its own dynamics involved. Aunt Judy may not like someone on the opposite side of your family. Or your spouse or boyfriend doesn’t like attending your family functions and chooses not to accompany you. What do you do? Do you go without your “other”? What will your family say? What’s that like for you?. Or can your mate “suck it up” for one night? This will be something to discuss between the two of you.
  • If your mate does not want to go, maybe you can explain to the family that he is uncomfortable at social events and won’t be able to always attend. They may not “understand”, or they might understand, but don’t want to accept the situation. Either way, you need to figure out what works best for the two of you. Sometimes it means a compromise. For example, taking two cars, or leaving early. Either way, it is something you must learn to manage if your mate is permanently in the picture. It’s important that you both understand how the other feels and can openly examine the possible options.
  • If you just want to show up and get through the event, you will need to be prepared to let things go that bother you in the moment. How much effort you put into each relationship depends upon how much you value the relationship.

You have options to avoid holiday burnout. Be mindful of what you want and what doesn’t work as well for you. If there is ongoing conflict, the holidays are probably not the best time to try to work things out. If you decide to participate in challenging family gatherings, be mindful of keeping the peace in those moments. You can have those more difficult conversations another time.

I hope however your holidays go, they are enjoyable for you one way or another. HoHoHo!

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Dating, Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on and on

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