Already planning for the holidays?
Be sure to plan on ways to reduce holiday stress, too. For some employees, this can be the most stressful time of year. With in-laws visiting, looming work deadlines, party planning, present shopping, and more, it can sometimes feel like way too much.
Luckily, with some tweaks to time management and stress management techniques, this holiday season can be approached with a stress-free attitude.
This post will look at ways to keep calm and healthy, including working as a team, creating detailed to-do lists, meal planning, taking mental health days, and more.
Read on for the secrets to a happy-go-lucky holiday season ahead!
Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress in the Workplace
This time of year tends to be the busiest time in workplaces. Leaders must first face their own stressors and lead with confidence during the holiday season to get things done. Employers play an essential role in ensuring their team members keep calm and carry on during this often tough time of year. Keeping an eye out on employees and finding ways to win together can reduce holiday stress in the workplace.
Here’s a look at stress reduction for this time of year at work:
Tip #1: Look Out for Each Other
Working on a team means helping your teammates out. Supervisors can keep an eye out on employees to watch for signs of excessive stress. Irritability, lack of production, calling out sick often, and a lack of enthusiasm are indicators of stress and potential for burnout. Asking team members to look out for colleagues going through difficult periods can make all the difference, too.
Ways to look out for colleagues:
- Actively listen
- Problem-solve together
- Validate emotions when chatting
- Ask for additional back-up, if needed
Colleagues are more likely to notice stressed-out coworkers long before HR or management will. Take the time to help one another and work on nailing projects, deadlines, and company goals together to reduce stress around the holidays.
Tip #2: Work on a Team Game Plan
With the end of the year approaching fast, now is the time to create a department deadline game plan if you haven’t already. Doing so ensures that everyone gets their fair share of work done while also keeping in mind upcoming scheduled vacations. As needed, re-assign tasks or projects to help lighten loads or meet deadlines sooner. Regular, short meetings can ensure everyone is on track and feels like work is doable.
Tip #3: Create Detailed to-do Lists
For final quarters projects, it’s often a final energy push to get it all done before December 31. To ease the stress of planning around time off, the holidays, and other end-of-year events, start crafting specific to-do lists.
To-do apps to try:
Look at various ways to organize your to-do lists. The ones that work the best are the ones that make the most sense for your work and organization style. Share with your team members and department to help others get organized, too.
Tip #4: Eat Well
The holiday season is well-known for being centered around food — and lots of it. It can be tempting to devour every goodie that comes into the workplace. Or, to get that holiday latte special every day on the way to work. Just remember that every calorie adds up and sugar is no exception.
Excessive sugar can cause:
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Skin issues
A well-balanced diet (with a treat here or there from the office breakroom) is one that will help you take on the holiday season with gusto. Opt for foods that are bright and rich in color for a nutritional boost on a regular basis. Nutrients and vitamins like magnesium, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce stress impacts on a person’s physical and mental health.
Tip #5: Incorporate Wellness Breaks
As pressures mount from projects, overtime, and other work duties, it’s important to take time to breathe. It will all get done if you use your time wisely (see tip #3) and ask for help when needed. Your mind does need breaks, as does your body.
Ways to incorporate wellness breaks in your workday:
- Take a tea break
- Watch a funny video clip
- Grab a coloring book to color
- Try some yoga stretches
- Listen to peaceful spa or instrumental music
- Go for a walk (around your workplace or your neighborhood)
Work breaks are often mandated by state law, so you might as well take them. Doing so can increase your energy, productivity, and offer more balanced emotional health.
Tip #6: Do Work Sprints
As you set yourself up for a nice vacation period, you’ll certainly feel more relaxed if you have finished your work. Otherwise, you’ll spend your vacation worried about loose ends. Starting now, consider blocking out time on the calendar for work sprints. These should be similar tasks that can be paired together for a specific amount of time and completed. Break tasks and work sprints down by each week before your vacation. This carves out specific focus time that will help you achieve your work goals and deadlines.
Tip #7: Give Back
When it all feels like too much, consider giving back to distract yourself in a positive manner. Altruism is a great way to lift spirits and reduce depression risks. Volunteering or organizing an event to help a nonprofit can involve the whole office, too.
Give back by:
- Organizing a meal drive for needy families
- Setting up for the family holiday party in the office
- Organizing a toy drive for needy children
- Planning a work group volunteer opportunity
The holidays are a fantastic time to give back to those in need. It takes your mind off your own stresses and lifts the spirit when offering your talents and services to others. Spread the cheer and help others this season wherever you can.
Tip #8: Practice Mindfulness
Again, all the important tasks will eventually get done. If you let it, your stress can drive you to illness which is an additional worry most people don’t want during the holidays. Mindfulness practices are found to help with emotional regulation, self-control, improved concentration, and mental clarity. Consider ways to practice being in the here and now in the workplace. You might even try organizing a yoga or meditation group for the holidays!
Related: Free Guide - Tap the Power of Mindfulness
Tip #9: Take That Sick Day
If your vacation days won’t roll over anyway, take a day off to reset. Sometimes what the body and mind actually need is rest. Doing so even for a day or two can help refresh your mindset and attitude to push through until your scheduled time off.
Time off is good because it:
- Helps reset focus
- Gives you a mental reset
- Provides time for relaxation
- Shows what needs to be prioritized
Alone time is an ideal time to collect your thoughts and reset your priorities. Don’t let burnout get to you. Take the time to rest.
Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress at Home
Your home should be a peaceful sanctuary that allows you time to restore and relax. The holidays can actually be restful and restorative if you set up yourself for that mindset.
Here’s how to reduce the stress at home this holiday season:
Tip #10: Say No
You don’t have to say yes to every request. While that can feel difficult during the holidays, it’s your right to say no nicely. Those two little letters are sometimes hard to say, but keeping your mental health balanced is more important. Don’t blurt yes when you really want to say no.
Reasons you might say no:
- It feels uncomfortable
- You’re already too busy
- It feels like too much work
- It’s not in your wheelhouse
- You need to set strong boundaries
But, you can say no with grace and kindness. Adding a little humor never hurts, either. For example, “Thank you so much for the invite. While we’re glad you thought of us for Christmas caroling, singing isn’t really our family’s thing. At least not in public. We hope you have an amazing time, though!”
Tip #11: Don’t Wait Until Last Minute
Waiting until the last minute for anything is a guarantee for a stressful situation. Whether that’s travel plans, meal plans, holiday shopping, or the like, waiting will make you regret doing the thing in the first place. Instead, opt to start light planning in early November for what needs to get done. Create a game plan and tackle it as the holidays rapidly approach. You’ll be glad you did!
Tip #12: Give Thanks
An attitude of gratitude can reduce holiday stress. When you think about how much you have to do, think about how lucky you are to have family, friends, festivities, a home, and more.
Ways to show gratitude:
- Create a gratitude jar
- Say thank you for a kindness
- Pass along a random act of kindness
Changing your lens and perspective can make you more optimistic and thankful for what you have and less like you’re dealing with a burden.
Tip #13: Stay on a Regular Sleep Schedule
As much as humanly possible, keep yourself on the same sleep schedule. That goes for weekends, too, even when it’s tempting to stay out late for all the fun holiday events. When you keep up on your sleep, you strengthen your immune system. You also maintain your body’s internal clock, so it makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. It will keep you from getting snappy, exhausted, and overwhelmed, too, if you’re well- rested.
Tip #14: Exercise
You knew this had to make the list, right? Exercise is one of the top ways to reduce stress. It also keeps your waistline trim at a time when holiday treats are tempting.
Ways to make holiday exercising fun:
- Join the kids in a game of tag
- Walk your block to see decorations
- Sign up for a community exercise event
- Host a household leave raking challenge
The holiday treats can quickly add up, which can make blood pressure, blood sugar, and numerous other health factors get out of whack fast. Balance it by eating well and exercising. Whenever that second slice of pie is calling your name, remember to exercise it off later.
Tip #15: Get Crafting
Like anything else during the holiday season, only take on a few crafting projects if it’s enjoyable for you. Woodworking, jewelry-making, painting, sewing, knitting, and the like are all great ways to relax and keep the mind calm.
- Minimize stress
- Build self-esteem
- Offer a creative outlet
- Provide a sense of accomplishment
Homemade crafts are a thoughtful gift option, too. It can help you save money and also lets the recipient know you had them in mind when they receive a homemade gift from you.
Tip #16: Keep Finances in Check
There’s no need to go into debt for the holidays. A life well-lived and enjoyed is one that’s experienced in the present moment. If you’re constantly paying off past debts, then you’re not fully enjoying what you’ve gifted or purchased during the holidays. Instead, opt for a budget and stick with it. Side hustles are a great way to earn extra income for the holidays. Think DoorDash, Lyft, Mercari, and other ways you can make money on the side.
Tip #17: Schedule “Me” Time
Amidst all the hustle and bustle, it’s pertinent to take a break for “me time.” That includes doing activities that you find enjoyable, relaxing, and downright peaceful.
Look for ways to relax like:
- Reading a book
- Booking a massage
- Heading outdoors for exercise
- Getting a special spa treatment
- Taking a walk on a favorite trail
Not every minute of the holiday season needs to be busy! Alone time is good to refresh and take a moment to reflect on personal priorities.
Tip #18: Simplify
Consider the advantages of low-key operations when it comes to the holidays. If you hate cooking a seven-course meal, why do it? Order a holiday meal delivery service instead! Tons of time, resources, and food get wasted every year during the holidays. Reduce and simplify the holiday season by taking stock of ways you can make your events easier on yourself. Skip the frenzied shopping, last-minute store runs, and massive, stressful gatherings. Look at what really matters to you and remember that enjoying the moment is sometimes just enough.
Tip #19: Meal Plan in Advance
Meal planning may sound like an arduous task, but it saves a ton of time and hassle once it’s done. As the holidays approach, consider a meal plan and prep ahead of time.
Ways to successfully meal plan and prep:
- Pick recipes before shopping
- Create a specific shopping list for the recipes
- Get all the ingredients the same day you shop
- Maintain a well-stocked pantry
- Fall in love with a slow cooker for easy meals
If you’re not naturally organized, look for apps and online meal planning templates to make the process easier. Writing it down is one of the easiest ways to get meal planning in action.
Tip #20: Keep a Family Calendar
If you’re a parent or caregiver, you know how busy the end of the year can get with mandatory appointments, recitals, parties, events, and more. Create a family calendar to ensure nothing gets missed during the hectic holiday season. This will reduce holiday stress for everyone in the household when multiple schedules are overlapping.
Tip #21: Shop Online
Sure, seeking out the best deals in person is a whole experience, especially on Black Friday. But it can be super stressful, too.
Reasons to shop online:
- You don’t have to find parking
- You don’t have to deal with crowds
- You may be less tempted to overspend
- You can support small and big businesses
Plus, you can skip touching germy shopping carts and standing among those with the cold or worse. Instead, create a list of those you wish to shop for and stay home and do it all online! Stressful shopping doesn’t have to be a part of your regular holiday season to-dos.
Prepare Now for a Stress-Free Holiday Season
Holiday stress is a real thing. Whether you’re traveling or staying put for the holidays, it can feel overwhelming to deal with the busyness of the season. Both at work and at home, stressors can quickly pile up if you let it.
Remind colleagues to take advantage of any special services your company offers. That may include mental health days, employee assistance programs, wellness perks, and the like.
As the holidays approach, we hope you’ll find this list useful for yourself and your employees in reducing holiday stressors. Focus on the good, do work with joy, and take time for making life easier — not harder — for a more fulfilling and joyous holiday season.