My Account

Self-Care for Therapists: Avoiding Holiday Burnout

These self-care tips can help therapists avoid burnout and thrive during the holiday season. 

Share this post:

self-care therapists

Holiday Stress and Burnout

The holidays can be a magical time to connect with loved ones and spark meaningful celebrations. This time can also cause stress. The pressures of having everything go well, cooking elaborate meals, and buying gifts can be taxing. Splitting time between families, managing time off, and bad memories related to the past may also contribute to stress.

The holidays can be particularly taxing for counselors and others in the helping professions. Burnout (which was added to the ICD-11 as an official diagnosis) can be a real experience for therapists during the holidays. When we experience exhaustion, feel negative about our jobs, and are less effective at work, we may be crossing into burnout.

The Importance of Self-Care for Therapists

Self-care involves anything that reduces our stress and recharges us. Therapists have an ethical obligation to manage our self-care. The ACA, NASW, AAMFT, and APA have standards in their code of ethics addressing the need for counselors to engage in regular self-care. Your state licensing board also most likely addresses this need. Modeling healthy behaviors sets an example for our clients.

Wondering where to start? Here are some self-care ideas for therapists during the holidays:

  • Exercise regularly, especially if you live somewhere where it may be too cold or dark to do your regular outdoor exercise.
  • Decide which holiday activities fit your self-care plan, such as dinner with friends, watching your favorite holiday movies, and baking cookies.
  • Take time off when you need it, without guilt. Schedule extra time off to get rest from the busy holiday if needed.
  • Practice saying “no” and conserving your energy. Don’t feel obligated to attend every holiday party and festive outing if you need to rest and recharge. 
  • Set aside time each day for deep breathing or mindfulness moments where you can check in on your stress levels.
  • Identify people in your support system. Think about who you can reach out for support if needed.
  • Schedule time with your own therapist if you need to process your holiday stress or solidify your self-care plan.

Ongoing Self-Care

Although consistent self-care is especially important during holiday season, it’s important to have a year-round plan in place to prevent stress and burnout. During periods where there may be extra stress or pressure, taking time to re-evaluate your plan is necessary. A good idea may be to have a therapist friend or two with whom you can share support.

Share this post:

Kari Rusnak manages her telehealth private practice and is currently licensed in Mississippi, Colorado, and Utah. Kari is a Board Certified Telemental Health Provider and trained in EMDR. She is a Certified Gottman Therapist and her practice focuses on LGBTQ+, those in open/poly relationships, chronic pain, and sexual health. Visit her website at

Recommended products


Registrations have closed for December 2022.

Please check back for future dates when we will be offering this live training.

We also offer an on-demand, asynchronous version of this training, which is available anytime.


Help pregnant and parenting families in your community prepare for the transition to parenthood.

This is a LIVE virtual training event held over two days that includes everything offered in the Essentials Package PLUS live Q&A sessions, small group participation, role-plays, and teachbacks. 

Live Training:

Follow Up Marketing and Q&A Webinar:


Take your practice to the next level.

Related posts

Success in couples therapy with arguing couple

Keys to Success as a Couples Therapist

Kendra Han

Read More

Gottman Method Training: Tips for Students

Sinead Smyth

Level 3 Trainer Sinead Smyth offers tips to guide you on your learning journey as a UOP (University Outreach Program) student. ...

Read More

Market Your Therapy Practice

4 Essential Tips to Effectively Market Your Therapy Practice

Salvatore Garanzini and Alapaki Yee

Learn how to get your counseling business thriving ...

Read More

gottman method same sex couples

Finding the Right Approach to Therapy with Same-Sex Partners

Dana McNeil

A couples therapist's search for the most effective theory ...

Read More

Find a therapist

Finding a Culturally-Relevant Therapist

Jenny Wang

What to ask when you need to know if this therapist is right for you ...

Read More

Couples therapist photo

How to Find a Couples Therapist Who Can Actually Help You

Kyle Benson

Tips to help you find a competent and effective couples therapist. ...

Read More

Subscribe to Gottman Love Notes

Sign up and start your relationship transformation. Subscribe and get the latest on relationships, therapy, and much more from the experts. Includes a free download and access to special pricing on Gottman products every month