The Christmas season is officially upon us. Trees are being trimmed, gifts are being bought, traffic by the mall is backing up... If the jingling of bells makes you want to sit and cry instead of stand and sing, you may be suffering from holiday stress.
While we would all love to curl up around a crackling fire with a cup of cocoa, a sugar cookie or two and Perry Como crooning in the background, chances are you're burning the yule log at both ends trying to keep up with the demands of your workload, holiday shopping and social events.
Holiday stress invades every aspect of our lives - including the workplace. Whether you're sitting in an office or a cubicle, stress can cause your productivity to plummet as your focus shifts from work to holiday happenings. So we've put together some suggestions for reducing holiday stress and keeping it from destroying your productivity.
- Take a deep breath: It might sound cliché, but when you start feeling rushed and overwhelmed that's a cue to stop and take a deep breath. The simple act of breathing can help bring you back to the present moment. And in the present moment we feel like we have choices and are in control.
- Unplug your devices: It seems counter-intuitive when you have so much that needs to be done, but sometimes those tools meant to help us can also distract. When you need a minute to focus, whether it's on the job or with your family, turn off your cell phone and tablet and allow yourself to be fully present.
- Delegate tasks: We all want to believe we can do it all, but during the holidays there can be too much demanding our attention. Whenever possible, delegate. Ask your co-workers to help with a big project or your kids to clean up around the house. While it may feel like giving up control, consider it a gift to yourself.
- Shop smart: Whatever it is you need to shop for, do a little strategic planning before you hit the store. Lists are always a good start, but plan your route and choose one-stop shopping whenever possible to help manage your time. Shopping online is always a great option as well, with many online retailers offering free shipping and big discounts this time of year.
- Set reasonable expectations: There's a good chance you're expecting way more of yourself than anyone else is. No one really expects your house to look like it just popped off the pages of a Martha Stewart magazine and your clients are probably just as stressed out and busy as you are. So set some reasonable expectations, both for yourself and those you work with.
- Take care of your health: The first thing to go when we're feeling stressed is the one thing we should pay the most attention to. Eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and exercising are important routines, especially when you're stressed. So skip the drive through and pack some fresh fruits and veggies to snack on during the day. Replace that peppermint latte with an extra bottle of water and don't skip your evening workout. Your body will thank you for it by helping you better manage those feelings of stress.
- Be grateful: Take time to look back at this year and celebrate your accomplishments. Express gratitude to those who have helped you along the way and then look forward to next year with motivation and high spirits.
Whether the holidays make you want to belt out a chorus of Joy to the World or scream Bah Humbug, we hope you find ways to celebrate the season with a little less stress.