Are you stressed yet? The annual commercial Christmas bombardment starts earlier and earlier every year. I saw Santa hats at some stores before Halloween. Hurry up and get your gifts! Every free minute is devoted to parties, school holiday concerts, and fighting traffic at the mall. Don’t forget the end-of-year crush at work, and remember to watch your waistline.
Slow down. The rush is all in your head. Well, maybe not all of it. But most of the stress of the season is a product of your brain. You see all the buzz around you and get swept up in the storm. Take a step back and breathe. You do not have to give in to the chaos around you. There are actions you can take to make this busy season just a little bit more manageable.
Here are ways you can help yourself decompress before you deal with the really difficult part of the season - family!
1. Make lists.
There’s a lot to do, so you need to prioritize. Get the important stuff done so you can focus on the fun stuff - and so you can sleep soundly at night. First, distinguish between what you need to get done and what you want to get done. This may require you to make some difficult choices, but be honest with yourself. Think of the people you need to buy presents for, and consider what you can give them. Make another list of the most important things that need to happen for that big project at work. Arrange the tasks into 3 categorize: Need to Do, Want to Do, and Nice to Have. You may find that the necessities aren’t as overwhelming as you thought.
2. Strategize and plan.
Consider the tasks in your Need to Do list. Break each task down into action steps that are specific and quantifiable. Make a schedule for when each step needs to be completed. How can you make the process more efficient? Can you buy the same present for multiple people? Can you purchase all the items you need at the same shopping center? At work, can you use the same basic pitch for two clients? Each of these steps may not save you much time individually, but the difference quickly adds up. You’ll be surprised how much faster things go.
3. Ask for help.
You don’t have to do it on your own. In fact, you shouldn’t do it on your own! The point of the holiday season is family and friends, being together and celebrating life. You can miss the whole thing if you spend all your time isolated and working. See what you can delegate at work, or what your boss might agree can be postponed. Can you hire a freelancer online to do some tasks for you? Maybe there’s an industrious college student home for winter break looking to make a few extra bucks. Make it easier on yourself, and get more efficient in the process.
You can ease the worries of a lot of needy clients and family members by assuring them that you’re on top of their needs. Call your clients to wish them a happy holidays, and remind them about what you’re working on for them. If you’re going away for the holiday, tell them when you’ll be back, and assure them they’ll hear from you shortly thereafter. If you have too many clients to call individually, send out an email blast. Tell them you’re taking a short break so that you can be well rested to attack their project with gusto upon your return. You’ll be acknowledging their needs, reminding them of your good work, and looking forward to your continuing relationship.
5. Let it out.
One of the worst things you can do during the holiday season is to bottle up the stress. It will absolutely rear its ugly head, maybe even worse than the original stress would have caused. Make a point of taking even just a few minutes every day to meditate, do a deep breathing exercise, or something else to clear your mind. Exercise to work out some of the stress. You’ll be happier and healthier, and you’ll be better able to focus on your tasks when you undertake them.