Gearing Up for the Holidays

Posted by Matt Grawitch

This time of year is supposed to be one of the most festive times of the year. Yet, inevitably, the Christmas season has the ability to stress many of us out. Shopping, parties, the end of the semester, family celebrations, and numerous other demands (exacerbated when you have children) can create an exorbitant amount of stress.

It amazes me that many people who effectively manage a stressful daily work life can sometimes forget how to apply those skills to stressful times outside of work (and I put myself in that category as well). But if you are one of those people who do a good job of managing your work-related stress, now might be the time to think about ways to apply those skills to the non-work domain.

Those of us who study issues surrounding the work-life interface would talk about this application as work-to-life enhancement or enrichment. It occurs when stuff that you learn or acquire at work spills over into your non-work life in a positive way.

So, if you have some effective time or stress management skills that come in very handy at work, try putting a little extra effort this year into applying them outside of work. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Conflict management – If you are great at conflict management in the office, it’s time to make sure you apply some of that during the Christmas season. There’s no need to allow yourself to get into unnecessary arguments with your spouse, children, family, or friends.
  2. Time management – Do you have a schedule that you actively manage at work? Do you do a good job of minimizing interruptions so you can accomplish your goals? If so, how do you do it at work, and how might you apply that at home?
  3. Deep breathing – Many people use deep breathing or other stress management techniques at work when they get overwhelmed. If you are one of those people, pay particular attention to your breathing and stress management during the holiday season. Shopping can be a brutal experience, standing in line for hours at a time. Unfortunately, people around you may not be handling their stress all that well. So, make sure you engage in conscious stress management techniques during this time.
  4. Health habits – Some people are very good at maintaining at least a reasonably healthy lifestyle. They eat right, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Unfortunately, for many of us, that behavior disappears during the holiday season as we allow demands on our time and other resources to ‘force’ us into unhealthy behaviors. To increase your ability to survive the holiday season unscathed, try making sure that maintain at least some of your healthful behaviors during the holidays.
  5. Mood management – Dealing with conflict, time demands, stress, and unhealthy choices can be a lot easier if you enter into those situations in a positive mood. Positive mood increases resiliency to negative events. So, start your day with something that puts you in a positive mood, whether it is music, a good breakfast, a workout, or a warm shower. It can help set the right tone for the day.

These five suggestions are, by no means, designed to be all-inclusive. Some people may like all five, some may like only one or two of them (a very small number may not like any, I admit). But, I would like to know what works for you. What do you do to help you manage the holiday stress that inevitably comes (unless you lock yourself away for a month or so). So, comment and give me your suggestions. And I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Stay safe and have fun!

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