The holidays. You look forward to them, but you, like many, may also dread them. At work, production seems to drop off as people focus more on a merry-making mindset. People take off to go shopping or cook meals; or they hang with the family, leaving you short-handed through what might be your busiest season.
You feel overwhelmed and pressured to get everything done at work and at home. There are shortened deadlines, end-of-the-year demands, crazed customers, and email gets out of control! You can barely breathe. And then, all of a sudden, the holiday is over. You thought you were doing the smart thing by coming right back to work, but you’re beating yourself up now because everyone else took a couple of days off after the holiday.
According to Richard Bedrosian, director of Behavioral Health for Wellness & Prevention, Inc., “Holiday stress can overwhelm people in some of the same ways as job stress, so individuals may experience a double whammy as these life stresses compound one another.”
This year, be intentional and sail through the holidays with much less stress with these tips.
Define your goals for the holiday season. When you are under stress, having a clear plan can help. Sit down and think about what you want the holiday season to be like for you. What do you want to focus on at work? At home? What is most important to you during the holiday season? Realistically, how much time can you devote to each of those things? What pieces could you live without and still have a satisfying, happy holiday? If your goal is to rest and relax, then take time for yourself. If your goal is to get a specific project done at work, then focus on that project until it is complete. (If others are involved in completing the project, be sure to let them know that it is a focus so they can arrange their schedules to accommodate the goal.)
Pace yourself as you complete your tasks. Let go of goals that just won’t be achievable during this season. The most important thing to remember is that you get to choose whether you want to react to what happens, or respond based on your goals.
Listen to your body. When you become overwhelmed, stressed, or frustrated, take a deep breath and remember your goals for the holidays. The more normal you can keep your schedule, the easier it will be to cruise through the holidays. (The same goes for your children, by the way.) If you are tired, rest. If you are hungry, eat. Just avoid over-eating and over-drinking. Make healthy eating choices, even if they are hard decisions with sweets everywhere! Let some of your responsibilities go for a few weeks to make room for the extra tasks that you’re doing.
Be realistic. Things happen. The heat goes off with a houseful of guests. The turkey doesn’t thaw. The toilet overflows. The kids (or even adults) break things. (Yes, this has really happened to me.) Television depicts the perfect holidays – beautifully decorated, everyone relaxed and having a great time together, accepting each other’s quirks. Accept that real life just isn’t like that. If you have too many tasks to do, find a way to delegate, or make a choice about what you want to do versus what you don’t really have to do. Consider scaling back. And, know that not everything will go according to plan and that’s okay. In fact, some of those things will be funny memories at future holiday celebrations. (“Remember the time we all ate in our coats and the furnace repair guy and his family joined us for Thanksgiving?”)
Make conscious choices. Be intentional about how you will divide your time between work and personal life. Instead of overextending yourself – the last minute report, doing those last few emails, staying late to prepare for tomorrow – thoughtfully plan how you will spend your day and stick to your plan. Make your plan based on urgency. If a task is not critical, then make a plan to get it done in a reasonable amount of time.
Put yourself in timeout. It’s easy at holiday time to feel overwhelmed by responsibilities. Set your clock each hour to stop and breath. Or, take a walk around the building to clear your head. The breathing and exercise will help release the stress-related tension that builds up during the holiday season.
Be flexible with employees. Consider allowing them to take a day off, come into work late one day a week, or shop online at work. This helps accommodate the additional burdens of the holiday season so they can focus when they’re at work. Provide a newsletter or blog with gift ideas for the whole family. Ease up on the dress code to allow a more relaxed atmosphere. Encourage employees to decorate. Hold contests where everyone wins a prize.
Plan an after holiday kickstart. After all the anticipation, preparation, and celebration of the holidays, you and your employees may be in a bit of a fog. It is your job to start the New Year off with a strong vision for the coming year. Get the team excited about how they can help move the company forward.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the upcoming holiday season and are unsure how to get it all done, contact Joy at Joy@MaximizeYourLeadership.com. Holidays are meant to celebrate not frustrate. Put the JOY back into your holiday season.