Date posted: 06/12/2019 5 min read

6 tips to survive the holiday season

Performance expert Dr Adam Fraser shares his tips to stay chilled out as you head into the summer break.

In Brief

  • The lead-up to Christmas and New Year can be exhausting due to endless events and end-of-year deadlines.
  • Being choosy on what events you attend and leaving parties early can help prevent holiday burnout.
  • Blocking out time for rejuvenating activities such as meditation and exercise can also assist.

By Fiona Smith

The Christmas and New Year break should be something to look forward to, but in the December lead-up we typically run ourselves ragged trying to meet end-of-year deadlines while also being under pressure to attend office parties, client drinks, lunches and an endless parade of children’s school events. Human performance researcher Dr Adam Fraser shares his tips to preventing holiday season burnout.

1. Recovery moments

Create some small moments for rejuvenation. Every day, find the time to do something that relaxes you – be it meditating, reading or walking.

“If you just run on nervous energy, trying to do everything at once, you will fall apart once you stop,” says Fraser, explaining why it is that so many people get sick as soon as they start their holiday. He recommends committing to a December exercise regimen with a friend to keep each other on track.

2. Watch your intake

Easier said than done. Overindulging in canapes and bubbly might seem like a good idea at the time, but it comes at a cost.

“About 25-50% of the weight we gain over a year comes from that holiday period,” says Fraser. He suggests standing as far away as possible from food and the bar.

Make a deal with yourself either to go alcohol-free or just have one glass. Don’t eat the party pies, but eat as many raw vegetables as you like.

Fraser also suggests that you eat before you arrive, “a sort of pre-loading in an adult, non-alcoholic way”. Maybe pick one event to allow yourself a blowout, but make it the one with the highest quality fare.

3. Show up smart

Arrive early, leave early. The great thing about this tactic is that when you arrive there will be fewer people in the room, so your presence will be noticed. Make a noise, greet everyone when they arrive, work the room by taking food and drinks around.

As the room fills up and the volume rises, you can slip out quickly and people will be left with the impression that you were fully committed and the life of the party all night. What’s more, you get to see people at their best, before their inhibitions slip.

“You don’t want to be around when that stuff happens,” says Fraser.

4. Be choosy

You don’t have to go to everything to which you are invited. Prioritise.

“What I’m trying to do is slowly wind myself down,” Fraser says. “Years ago, I used to push myself so far I would crawl across the finish line and, by the time I got to my holiday, I would be exhausted.”

With family commitments, such as school concerts, Fraser suggests parents strategise the month and lay out the calendar to work out who will go to what event, but to also block out times for relaxation.

5. Plan a proper rest

Fraser says the kind of holidays that are the most rejuvenating are those that are low on planning, agenda and responsibility.

“Doing a ‘it’s Monday, it must be Athens’ kind of whirlwind tour will not be relaxing,” he says. “A tightly packed agenda tends to exhaust people.”

6. Maintain the peace

Family get-togethers can be particularly painful if there are personality clashes. By the end of the year, people tend to be stressed and “not the best version” of themselves, Fraser notes.

“You are actually itching for an argument. The key is knowing which family members are going to push your buttons and choosing the high road when you disagree,” he says. “Just let it go by.”

Read more:

Dr Adam Fraser is the author of The Third Space: Using life’s little transitions to find balance and happiness, available at or to borrow from CA Library