Between chasing down-to-the-wire deadlines, covering for co-workers on vacation and attempting to reach end-of-year goals, the whirlwind of job-related activities during the holiday season can feel more like a blast of arctic air than a hint of festive cheer. The key to coping with holiday stress and avoiding burnout is to keep things in perspective by setting realistic expectations, planning ahead and making healthy choices. Here are five effective ways to boost your well-being, in and out of the workplace, over the holidays.
Set multiple deadlines instead of one
Job stress can be all-consuming, but it doesn't have to be, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you're feeling pressured about a looming deadline for a project before a holiday break, work with colleagues and managers to set a more realistic deadline. Better yet, consider breaking a large project into smaller, more manageable tasks, and stagger completion deadlines to ensure a smooth workflow. For an especially challenging project, block out time to work on it without interruption.
Stick to healthy habits
Indulging a little at office parties is to be expected, but don't use the holidays as an excuse to eat or drink too much. People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat the rest of the day, according to WebMD. So start your day off right by eating a healthy breakfast. Before a holiday office party, consider eating a small meal or a healthy snack to avoid overindulging on sugar-laden treats. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends moving your socializing away from the buffet tables or appetizer trays to minimize unconscious nibbling. Finally, if you plan to drink alcohol, arrange for a sober driver to take you home.
Make the most of the holiday lull
Receiving out-of-office messages can be exasperating when you're trying to wrap up a project before the holidays and need to contact a client or colleague. Instead of getting frustrated that someone you need to reach is not responding to emails or phone calls, use the slower work pace to your advantage. Inc.com advises taking a deep breath and slowing down. Take advantage of the opportunity to rethink, reassess and refine a project, perhaps with a different and more creative perspective.
Take a breather from work
During the holidays, it always seems there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done, much less take a break. If you're beginning to sense burnout, spending just 15 minutes alone — without distractions — may refresh you enough to let you tackle your workload. Taking a walk, listening to soothing music or reading a book are among the suggestions made by the Mayo Clinic for managing stress and preventing burnout.
Create a game plan for the new year
Feeling overwhelmed at work can undermine your feelings of competence and accomplishment, which contribute to stress, anxiety and depression, according to McKinsey & Company. Build positive work habits that help you feel less stress and greater satisfaction well into the new year.
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Avoid letting the holiday season become something you dread. By adopting these effective strategies, you can keep your stress levels down and boost your work productivity in the new year.