Although holiday songs and Hallmark movies depict this time of year as being merry and bright, the reality is that the holiday season can often be quite stressful. Wrapping up the year and setting goals for a new one is exciting, but at work, this often means feeling the pressure of looming deadlines. Whether you’re working at an agency and closing out client projects, in sales with a yearly target, a lawyer with billable hour requirements, or in HR facing year-end deadlines, it can feel like responsibilities are heightened for everyone during this time.
For many, this is also compounded by increased personal obligations, from buying presents and attending holiday parties, to hosting or visiting family and friends. As we are called upon more both personally and professionally, it can be challenging to balance our time and energy, much less feel that holiday cheer! The good news, though, is that there are things you can do to manage stress and find calm going into the new year. Below are some tips to help you mindfully navigate the holiday season:
Make yourself a priority. Time can feel like an especially scarce resource during the holidays, and most of it is usually spent doing things for other people. Between working late hours and holiday shopping during slots of spare time, it can feel overwhelming to try to find moments for self-care. But, carving out time for the activities that make you feel happy and nourished is critical for staying grounded and minimizing stress. While you may have more on your plate, you can get creative with your schedule so that you still have time for yourself. Whether it’s finding 10 minutes to meditate during the day, or temporarily moving your workout to the morning, being open to small adjustments in your time table will go a long way in ensuring your self-care routine doesn’t go out the window.
Embrace Your Emotions. As a society we set high expectations for the holidays to be a time of joy and celebration, but this is not necessarily the case for everyone. For some, gathering with family or starting a new year can bring up a lot of different emotions. However, when surrounded by cheerful music and colorful lights outside, it can be easy to get down on ourselves for feeling anything short of happy on the inside. Do some journaling or a mindful self-check in on how you are feeling, and embrace the full spectrum of emotions that may come up for you. Be gentle with yourself and remember: it’s okay to not be okay during the holidays.
Take Mini Mental Health Breaks. Building on the last two points, it is important to find some time to take a break if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. If your workload seems insurmountable, or your family is getting on your last nerve, it’s okay to take a time-out and regroup! Find a quiet conference room to take a few breaths, or walk around your parent’s block to get some fresh air and alone time. Whether at work or with family, taking mini mental health breaks in the midst of high stress will help you to hit the ‘reset button’ and feel more grounded.
Despite all the external pressures and distractions that come with the holidays, you can still turn inward to find moments of balance, clarity, and calm. By being aware of what this time of year brings up for you, you can take steps to more mindfully manage your stress and make your mental and emotional wellbeing a priority.