Holidays at Work: Ten Suggestions for Staying Sane and Productive

Most businesses agree that job-related stress escalates during the holiday season. In certain industries, such as retail, employees must work overtime while contending with increased demands on their schedules outside of work. There’s shopping to do and extra events to attend, including office parties. How can workers stay sane and productive amidst the chaos? Following are ten suggestions that can definitely help.

1. Be sensitive to those around you. The holidays magnify loss. Has anyone in your office lost a loved one in the past year? Let that person know that you’re thinking about them. Put a greeting card on their desk, or simply offer a few simple words of encouragement like, “Are you doing okay during this holiday season?” If you’ve experienced a loss, validate it by talking with someone who cares about you or send a donation to an organization in memory of that person.

2. Open up to those in need. Participate in a cause that your company is committed to. If your business hasn’t planned a philanthropic project, offer to organize one. For example, collect winter coats for a homeless shelter or coordinate a food drive for your local pantry.

3. Make the most of office parties. Resist viewing social engagements as interruptions in your day. Instead, loosen up and enjoy sharing time with your colleagues. Think ahead about questions you can ask that will enhance conversation. For instance, ask co-workers how they are—really. Be present. Listen. Resolve to talk with at least one other person that you don’t know. Offer to help clean up after the party.

4. Eat and drink in moderation. Eating too many cookies and other goodies can make your body and mind sluggish. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. Plan ahead by keeping low-fat, high fiber snacks on hand. Drink water instead of soda and coffee. If you’re signing up to bring a dish for your office party, contribute a vegetable or fruit tray.

5. Exercise. Even though your schedule is packed, you need exercise now more than ever. Stick to your exercise routine. Staying physically active will help you cope with the demands of this busy season.

6. Review your list of priorities. What are the important goals at work that you can’t afford to lose sight of? Focus on getting those things accomplished and realize that you may need to move some things to a later date.

7. Schedule down time. Even if you’re a high-energy person who loves to socialize, you’ll need time to relax. Reserve at least fifteen minutes every day to stop the activity and remind yourself about what matters to you. Breathe deeply, write in your journal, read an inspirational message, watch a beautiful sunset. Simple activities can help recharge your emotional batteries.

8. Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is a real problem in the workplace. Accidents are more likely to occur, and you’re less productive when you’re tired. If possible, go to bed a half-hour earlier during the holiday season or take a short nap over your lunch break.

9. Resist the pull of the material world. Finding the perfect gift doesn’t have to be costly. Think creatively about what the people on your shopping list really want and need. Perhaps instead of spending money, you can spend time with that person or volunteer time to their favorite charity.

10. Seek help if you feel overwhelmed. Many people report feeling more depressed during the holidays than at any other time of year. If you’re feeling sad and can’t seem to concentrate on what needs to get done, seek help from a mental health professional. Take care of yourself, and you’ll not only be happier, you’ll be more productive at work, too.

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