Have a Holly, Jolly Holiday – 4 Tips to Reduce Stress

It’s just about that time again and according to greeting cards, songs and commercials the holiday season should be the jolliest and happiest time of the year. But as anyone who has had to juggle a job, a family and a ton of other seasonal obligation knows the reality isn’t always quite that simple.

While the season is the most wonderful time of the year it often entails a whole lot of hustle and bustle. Compared to the average worker, Jolly ol’ Saint Nick has it easy. Sure Santa Claus has to work around the clock to meet the holiday production demands but at least he has a staff of well-trained elves to help him, not to mention a pretty comfortable schedule. Who wouldn’t love to work just one day a year? If only everyone had it that good.

The holiday’s also cause a lot of strain at work. The added pressures of holiday-shortened deadlines, end-of-year business demands, and crazed customers, to name a few, takes a toll on already frayed nerves. While some are lucky enough to be able to take time off, many do not have that option – and simply cannot. After all, for many businesses, the holidays can be the busiest time of the year. Holiday stress can result in restlessness, lack of motivation, poor concentration, irritability and feelings of being overwhelmed. This kind of stress is common, but can be managed with these simple perspectives and practices.

1. Work like a hound dog

Have you ever seen hound dogs on a hunt? They are all business, noses down and tails up. They have no time for water cooler chit chat or a social lunch break. The hound dog has a wonderful quality of compartmentalizing work and play. If you can hone the skills of maintaining a high level of focus and concentration during the work hours, it may help you accomplish more with the negotiated schedule you and your supervisor agreed upon. If distracting thoughts arise, roll your head around and take a few long, deep breaths. Think “fill up, hold it, let it go” as you take slow deep breaths. This will help you refocus on the task at hand.

2. Be honest and communicate

Negotiate what you need, clearly and simply. If it would be helpful to shop online during the lunch hour, ask your supervisor if that is allowed. If you need to leave early a couple of days, ask in advance. Nothing increases stress like needing to be at a school party at 2:00, with a department meeting scheduled at the same time. As soon as you know your schedule, communicate it with you team. This may lead to a more cooperative atmosphere.

3. Don’t take it personally

Stress can arise when we ruminate about the “unfairness” of working when others are absent. If you feel any negative emotion because you’ve perhaps chosen to work on a day that coworkers have opted to take off, then you are taking the situation personally. Keep perspective. The workload is temporary. You can make a different plan next year. Come January, you’ll be grateful to have your team of employees working in unison again.

4. Be true to yourself

Spend some time thinking about the holiday you would most enjoy. Does it include a simple schedule or do you like the nonstop hustle and bustle? Do you even like fruitcake? Are you tired of cooking the extravagant meal or do you truly enjoy the process? Whatever your idea is for the holidays, do that! Your experience is up to you and holiday time may be a great avenue to practice setting personal boundaries by declining some invitations. You can say ‘no’ and people will still value you.

A glass of eggnog never hurts either!