Three Tips for Beating Holiday Stress

During the holidays, juggling all of your obligations can be really difficult. Add parties, family get-togethers, gift shopping, and travel to your usual work and family schedules and it can start to feel like too much. Then a deadline gets moved up or a project is sent back to you for reworking. You realize you forgot to buy a Secret Santa present. Nerves start to fray. Pretty soon even the sight of one of your coworkers singing an off-key karaoke version of an ‘80s power ballad while wearing reindeer antlers and bowling shoes can’t get you to crack a smile. Well, don’t despair. The holiday season doesn’t have to be a huge flaming ball of stress. With a little planning, you can get through it all with a smile on your face.


1. Get a jump on your schedule.

What’s the first thing to do? Get a handle on your schedule now before you start feeling crazed. Knowing exactly what you have going on and when will help you feel more in control of your time and cut down on your stress.

So, pull out your calendar. Fill in all of your project deadlines and vacation days. Next, make a list of coworkers involved in your projects and note their vacation days on your calendar. This will ensure that your project doesn’t get stalled because the person who is next in line to work on it is out of the office. No one needs that frustration! Last, write in any social gatherings – office parties, departmental happy hours, family gift exchanges.  And there it is. Everything you need to plan for. You’ll feel a lot more relaxed and prepared to take on the season knowing you won’t have any surprises to face when you flip that calendar page.


2. Leave yourself some free time.

With so much going on it seems only logical to use your spare minutes to get some things done. So you run out to the store at lunch to pick up a few presents and spend your break researching recipes for the brunch you’re hosting this weekend. Things are being checked off your to-do list. It’s great! The problem? Being constantly on the go for weeks is going to be exhausting, both mentally and physically. Of course you’re going to have to run some extra errands, but if you want to avoid complete burn out set aside at least one day each week as an errand-free work day. Take your whole lunch hour. Eat something delicious, read a book or magazine, talk to a friend, walk down to the neighborhood café for a holiday drink. (No café near work? Make your own. Mix some hot chocoalte mix into your coffee and it tastes just like a Cafe Mocha!). It’s a small thing, but those extra minutes of down time will leave you feeling more relaxed so you’ll end up getting more done in the long run.


3. Feel joy, spread joy.

A positive outlook can do wonders for your stress level. If you can start each day off on a good note, that energy will follow you throughout the day. Luckily the fact that it’s the holidays can work in your favor here. Embrace the spirit of the season to add some cheer to your day. Take a minute in the morning to send a quick note to a friend telling them that you’re thinking of them. Fill out a holiday card while you’re drinking your morning coffee. Put an advent calendar at your desk so you have a little surprise to look forward to at the start of each day. Slip a small gift into a coworker’s mailbox. Bring in some donuts or cookies to share. Doing something nice for someone else will put you in a good mood, making it less likely that stress will get the upper hand. And, as an added bonus, the person on the receiving end of your kindness will get a boost too. That’s the kind of thing you want to spread through the office.