A Quiet Glow: Celebrating Christmas in the Midst of Burn Out

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Before we begin...

Burn out for many people is when you are overwhelmed by life and all it entails. Great thought was given on how to proceed with this guide - there is much information to share in order to help you overcome burn out. 

But who needs a bunch of stuff to read when they are overwhelmed?

What I decided to do was to first educate you here on what burn out is. Please don't skip this.There is some essential information here.

At the end of that, I have created a 7 day guide that you can download. Recovery from burn out is much longer than 7 days...but these are small steps forward.

The majority of the 7 day guide is recognizing and healing from what brought you to burn out. The final part is how to celebrate Christmas in the midst of burnout. 

There are a lot of options in this bundle. A lot of directions you can go.  I'd like to point you in the direction of following God's leading.

You are here, reading this. I would like to make a plea. 

If you can only do one thing from this bundle, I ask that you would consider taking care of your hurting heart. The goal is attachment. Attachment for you and your spouse, children and special relationships. Attachment won't be nearly as effective if you have the walls of burn out keeping you locked away from life. 

My  heart is with you this Christmas, precious Mama. Together, let's allow God's love to melt away the walls of burn out. 

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Often times I talk with mothers who are overwhelmed and feeling frustrated that they don't have the energy they once had. As I dig a little deeper into their current situation, I recognize that what they are describing is burn out.

This word has been thrown around a lot and sometimes people roll their eyes when the word is said. Burn out, stressed out, overworked - we hear these terms a lot. Sometimes the word burnout hasn't been clearly defined for us. I'd like to do that here. 

I'm including in this handout a list of symptoms regarding burn out. While most of us could check one or two items off the list on any given day, it's important to note that if you could consistently say yes to 3 or more list items then you need to implement some self-care strategies to avoid travelling through the 3 stages of burnout. 

Before I discuss Burnout, it's stages and it's symptoms, it's important to note:

Burn out isn't a weakness. In fact, it usually only strikes those who are highly committed to their role as a parent.  Burn out happens to those who have been "alight" with passion and strong determination for what they do. 

Let's talk about Burnout and then let's strategize on how to make Christmas memorable and full of attachment, even as we put our flame to the level of a quiet glow. 

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What is burn out?

I found two quotes that truly define burn out and the different dynamics involved. 

1. a state of physical emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement and emotionally demanding situations to a state of fatigue -Ayala Pines &Elliot Aronson

2. A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life or relationship that  failed to produce the expected reward. -Herbert J. Fredeunberger

The pillars of burn out are the exhaustion (fruit- yes BAD fruit  of the issue) and the sense of delusion  or unmet expectations (the root of the issue).

Obviously, the fruit - or exhaustion- can be dealt with quickly as you take steps towards physical rest. What is often overlooked though is the root - or the unmet expectations. This takes a little bit longer to work through as sometimes we have created grand ideas in our mind of what situation, people and things MUST be like. 

We are not God though and our grand ideas must come to rest in His care as we open our hands and hearts and ask for His thoughts and ideas about our life, relationship and situations. 

Let's talk about symptoms of burn out. Remember, pay attention to whether you have been feeling this way for a while or if this is just a "today" feeling. 


  • Frequently thinking of quitting or wishing to for change roles in life with someone else

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Difficulty making decisions

  • Feeling a sense of hopelessness (like "why bother?")

  • Chronic forgetfulness

  • start the day feeling unrefreshed

  • Frequent feelings of worthlessness

  • Change in appetite over-eating or loss of appetite

  • Feeling burdened by responsibilities and pressures

  • Becoming preoccupied with details

  • Unable to say no

  • Becoming inflexible and fussy

  • Becoming hypercritical with friends and family

  • Losing perspective

  • A growing sense of being out of control in areas of life

  • Having a negative and critical attitude

  • Dread getting up and facing another day and wanting to leave or escape once you go through the day

  • Low interest and low energy

  • Having trouble sleeping

  • Being absent from things you once loved

  • Having feelings of emptiness

  • Experiencing physical complaints such as headaches or a backache, chest pain, abdominal cramps, mouth ulcers, diarrhoea, indigestion, skin rash, persistent cold, allergies, accidents

  • Loss of interest in intimacy

  • Being irritated easily by family members

  • Having thoughts that what you do doesn't have meaning or make a difference

  • Pulling away emotionally from other people

  • Feeling that your contribution goes unrecognized

  • Blaming others for your mistakes

When a woman acts as though she’s capable of everything, she gets stuck doing everything.
— Sherry Argov
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Stage One:  Physical, Mental and Emotional Exhaustion

In this stage, you are holding it together, but you may be using a lot of numbing techniques to avoid how you are feeling.

You usually need to veg out, disappear into a book or movies, and do activities where you "don't have to think." With too much responsibility and not enough time, your once excellent execution of things is now looking for every short cut possible.

You are irritated with yourself for doing this and often have negative self talk,  "why can't I do more", "why can't I be more like______?",etc.


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Stage Two:  Feelings of Unworthiness

Oh, the two bosom buddies-shame and doubt- who travel together and hang about. Good bye confidence and competence! Self doubt has you second guessing every choice and decision. 

Deep inside you no longer feel like you're a capable parent. You wonder how no one is suspecting you of being a total fake. Insecurity shows up here and you often feel vulnerable.

Your family may hear you give a deep sigh in response to requests - an actual outward sign of an inward feeling: a feeling of deep loss and/or change that is out of your control, resignation to your lot in life.

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Stage Three:  Negative Attitude

At this stage you feel defenseless to change the situation. Unconsicously you've put up a wall of protection to keep people away: Attitude!

Family members are often met with a snappish or surly response. Sarcasm shows up here.Bitterness, too. You may have family members say to you, "I feel like I'm walking on egg shells around you." Frustration and anger start to turn into suspicion and mistrust here.

Often times, we put this strategy in place to protect ourselves, but it actually does the opposite. It drives people away and we find ourselves withdrawing from people and places we once loved. In this stage, those with little or no boundaries, start to feel resented  more gets put on their plate by others and they find themselves unable to say no when asked to help. Resentment and bitterness are hallmarks of this stage. 


Stage Four: Meltdown and Crisis

This stage is when you are coming unglued and wondering what happened to your life. You feel hopelessly stuck. The self-talk record in your head sounds like this "I can't make a change, nothing will ever change. I have no control over my life. Dreams are things other people have. I am out of options."  This is called learned helplessness.  When our circumstances create chronic stress, we feel helpless.

You've reached this stage because you've believed that if you keep trying harder, keep going at full steam, you could possibly change things. Now, all your effort is crumbling and coming up empty.

It is common to suddenly be overwhelmed by painful memories, past trauma and old wounds that you once hid so well. You are physically exhausted and your emotions are too. You default to criticism and suspicion around people's choices. Family members are easily fed up that you assume the worst about them.

You are starting to feel unhinged yet continuing to avoid as a coping method. At this stage, help is absolutely needed.

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Next Steps

Reading through these stages can be sobering. I want to note again, that if you find yourself in different stages, that it's going to be okay. Adjustments can be made to bring peace and order back into your life. 

You may be asking, "So, where's the hope in all of this?"

I'm glad you asked!

Because Christmas is the season of hope. The time to let things begin a fresh. A time of forgiveness and moving forward. A time for change and possibility.  

In this 25 page guide, we walk through the practical steps on how to start healing from Burn Out. Of course, you are always welcome to book  a one on one session if you need additional support.

Burn out is real and not be ignored. It takes time to recover from. We look at some of the practical solutions on how to do that in the I’ll Be Home for Christmas Resource Bundle. 

Therese McDonald