How To Make It Through The Holidays Without Suffering From 'FOMO', Burnout, Or Dysfunctional Family Drama

Here's how to actually enjoy your holidays.

How To Avoid Holiday Stress From 'FOMO,' Burnout, & Family Drama This Season unsplash / Analise Benevides

How will you avoid holiday stress and burnout this year?

Some people travel to a faraway island. Others suffer from "FOMO," or the fear of missing out, on the "best” party of the year — or worry about not being invited anywhere! Still, others will hibernate and not answer their phone.

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 holiday stress unscathed?

RELATED: 7 Ways To Make The Holidays More Fun (& Less Stressful)

The bottom line is to prioritize your time and money in terms of your own values.

Here are 5 situations that cause holiday stress and how to make them easier to navigate in order to avoid FOMO, burnout, and anxiety:


1. Figuring out which holiday events to attend

Holiday burnout can come from attending events because it feels like it’s the “right thing to do.”

In work situations, you 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.

Are you 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 your finances.


You may not really 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 you try, you still can’t make everything work as you'd 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 for fear of letting someone down.


This said, there are going to be times when you 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.

2. Picking out the "perfect" gifts for everyone

Spending an inordinate time trying to find the “perfect” gifts is an incredibly time-consuming process.

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.

3. Dealing with FOMO (or fear of missing out)

For some, this is a real thing. You may love social events and the energy you get from other people. If you have this belief, you may feel if you don’t attend, you might miss out on a special event that others will talk about and feel left out.

For others, you may feel unimportant to those around you if you don’t attend. Maybe you fear others won’t “miss” you not attending. This can lead to feeling less valued by others, which can translate to a lowered sense of your own worth.

Either situation can lead to holiday burnout from a whirlwind of parties and events. You'll need to avoid holiday burnout by looking inside yourself and making choices based on what is ultimately good for you.


Carefully choose to spend your time with the “right” people, and you won't have to worry about missing anything.

RELATED: 6 Common Mistakes That Kill Your Relationship During The Holidays (And How To Avoid Them)

4. Avoiding potential conflict

Some people are afraid of letting others down. You may have trouble saying “no” to others, or don’t trust the relationship to be secure. Sometimes you’ve learned that to feel valued, you must please those around you.

This often comes from family dynamics, and you might feel that not answering someone, or "ghosting" them, is safer than saying “no.” You might end up staying out of sight, avoiding contact, or not answering your phone.


If this fits you, rather than avoiding the phone calls, maybe you can just tell them you aren't going because you don’t like big events. Or perhaps you're tired from work, etc. and don’t feel up to being around a lot of people.

Or tell them you're suffering from holiday burnout.

Don't completely withdraw from everyone and all events. That can be unhealthy. But if you're really 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.

5. Getting caught in dysfunctional family drama

Every family has its own dynamics. Some good, some not so good, some downright unhealthy.


If unhealthy dynamics rule your family, there are some good options to avoid this kind of holiday burnout.

You aren't 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.


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's uncomfortable at social events and won’t be able to always attend. They may not understand or 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 even leaving early. Either way, it's something you must learn to manage if your mate is permanently in the picture. It’s important 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 at 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 an 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.


RELATED: 7 Easy Ways To De-Stress During The Holidays

Susan Saint-Welch, LMFT is a licensed marriage, individual, family psychotherapist, and life coach. For more information on how she can help you, visit her website.