End-of-year syndrome

Call it what you like, ‘end-of-year fatigue’ or ‘end-of-year burnout’, but I call it end-of-year syndrome, and I get it every year. Most people get it in November and December, but I’ve been known to get it as early as September and October.

‘End-of-year’ syndrome is when you’re physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. Usually from working too hard and not resting enough. This time of the year, it catches up with you. It can make you feel overwhelmed, irritable, lazy or just plain disengaged. It’s not uncommon for people to get unseasonably sick during this time of the year.

This year has been particularly bad because I’ve had to integrate into a whole new society, find a job, work five days a week (I only had part-time jobs until now) and deal with so many teenagers. I’m very thankful to live in this country and to have a job, but I am so exhausted.

What is it?

Well, the usual symptoms are that you’re exhausted and find it difficult to concentrate. You find it difficult to do everything on your to-do list, find the motivation to exercise, make those home-cooked meals, or even get up in the morning.

For me, it feels like I’m slipping into a terrible depression, but I find solace in the fact that I’ve gone through this before and once this week is over, I’m free.

Change your attitude

Instead of thinking, “let me just get through these next few weeks”, think “what are some fun things I can do during these next few weeks?” Even if ‘fun’ just means taking a nap now and then. Having something to look forward to also makes a big difference in your overall mood.


Take some time to reflect on this year and what you have already achieved or just survived. Maybe keep a journal of how you felt about those things and what you’re looking forward to.

Do not make big decisions

When you’re exhausted, you’re not thinking straight. Do not (I repeat: DO NOT) make any big life decisions. This is not the time to decide to move, have another kid, or quit your job. Don’t do it.

Take care of yourself

Eat healthy meals, drink enough water, exercise, and sleep. Easier said than done, but it’s worth trying. Just going for a walk or giving a jump rope a go for five minutes will release some much-needed endorphins.

I’ve found that my daily exercise routine has kept me sane these past couple of weeks, so I can definitely recommend it.

Be grateful

This time of year, it’s easy to forget how good we have it. It’s good to remind yourself what you have to be thankful for. Making a gratitude journal or list might be a good way to put things into perspective.

Less technology

Taking a break from technology and social media could be a good idea, as seeing other people’s ‘perfect’ lives while you’re suffering is exhausting and even more so when you’re drained. So, why not put your phone and PC away for a bit to do something a bit more healthy for your mental health, like taking a nap or reading a good book?

Spring cleaning

Well, it can be done in any season, really. Throwing some stuff out or giving your excess to the less fortunate could make you feel better and the load on your shoulders lighter, even if you just clean out one drawer.

Play those good tunes

Putting on some feel-good tunes could give you the strength to get through those hard days when you’re drained. Don’t underestimate the power of music.

Support systems

If you can ask someone to help you with something, do it. Need your partner to help with cooking, etc? Just ask. Have an assistant at work? Let them help you. Get help from where ever you can. Outsource any tasks, at work or at home, that you can (or can financially afford to).

It’s also important to remember that sometimes you need to seek professional help like seeing a psychologist or counsellor. It’s okay not to be okay.


Try not to work more than nine hours a day and make sure that you take your lunch hour. It’s there to be enjoyed, get up from your desk and go sit with work friends or someone else. Stay connected with your friends and family.


Do you suffer from end-of-year syndrome? How do you deal with it?