The holidays are a time of relaxation and cheer, providing a perfect opportunity to celebrate after a year of good work. Unfortunately, many of us know that the holidays can also cause a lot of stress. Between shopping, parties, family dinners and end-of-the-year work deadlines, the holiday season can leave some of us without a moment to breathe.
Though people may try to maintain a happy outlook during the holidays, doing so can be difficult at times. Stress and depression are unwelcome guests in many households during the season. One survey found 44 percent of respondents thought the holidays were “somewhat stressful.” Another 18 percent called the holidays “very stressful.”
The source of holiday stress might vary from person to person, but it’s clear most people feel less than cheery at some point during the season. For many people, holiday stress comes not from the celebrations themselves, but the strain of additional obligations on top of everyday work stress.
Though it’s common to feel flustered during this time of year, stress in the workplace doesn’t have to ruin your holiday fun. Here are five ways to relieve workplace stress during the holidays and all year ’round.
- Maintain Healthy Routines
It’s easy to let healthy habits slip during the holiday season. You’re busy, tired and tempted by candy and baked goods everywhere you turn. While it’s OK to indulge a sweet tooth during your celebrations, abandoning health concerns entirely can worsen symptoms of stress.
To manage feelings of stress, it’s a good idea to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and keep up your regular fitness routine. Exercise helps the body relieve stress by boosting the production of endorphins. These neurotransmitters can improve your mood and lower stress and anxiety. Exercise can even help you sleep better.
A healthy body supports a healthy mind. Even if it’s snowy and cold outside, you can lower your stress levels by going for a walk or practicing yoga inside. Even a quick tour around the office can leave you feeling refreshed.
- Keep Track of Your Priorities
Having too much to do is one of the biggest causes of holiday stress. Things tend to ramp up during the season, requiring you to juggle a variety of different tasks between your work and personal life. When you know you have a lot to do and no idea how you’re going to get things done on time, stress arises. That is especially true if you have other people putting pressure on you as well.
To deal with holiday stress productively, you might consider writing “make a plan” at the top of your to-do list. When you devise a plan for dealing with stress, the stressors become less threatening, allowing you to get on with your life without distracting worries lurking in the back of your mind.
Set aside half an hour to create your game plan. Sit down with your calendar or a notebook and write down everything you need to accomplish during the holidays. Then, rank each task in order of importance and schedule time to deal with each challenge. By scheduling everything, and adhering to that schedule, you can stop worrying about how you’re spending your time in the moment.
- Learn When to Say No
Though it’s certainly beneficial to keep track of your responsibilities, you also need to realize when too much is too much. Though you may want to do everything possible during the holiday season — visiting friends and family, impressing your boss at the next meeting, accepting every party invitation you receive — saying yes to everything could leave you exhausted and burned out.
Before you agree to do something, either at work or elsewhere, think about whether you’ll feel good about the experience when it’s done. If you have too much on your plate, it’s OK to decline politely.
Amid all the holiday fervor, try to make time for yourself too. A few hours of quiet relaxation can help you tackle the rest of the day with renewed energy.
- Recognize Symptoms of Anxiety
Though it’s normal to feel a little more stressed than usual around the holidays, you should still take symptoms seriously. Long-term stress in the workplace can transform into a chronic anxiety disorder. That isn’t as uncommon as you might think, since 33 percent of people will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.
In addition to persistent feelings of worry or fear, anxiety sufferers may experience various physical symptoms such as insomnia, heart palpitations, nausea or trouble breathing. If anxiety is interfering with your life or hurting your happiness, consider seeking help from a mental health professional.
- Try to Put Things in Perspective
Though holiday stress can feel overwhelming, try to remember these celebrations exist for you to enjoy. As you juggle work responsibilities with your personal life, try to keep things in perspective. Turning in that report a day late probably won’t cause the world to end. Take a few deep breaths and try to have some fun.
Overcome Holiday Stress This Season
Though the holidays can feel overwhelming, holiday stress doesn’t have to tank your mood or the quality of your work. Try these tips to overcome holiday stress and enjoy the season more this year.