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Work-Life Balance: Balancing the Holidays, Part 2
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Work-Life Balance: Balancing the Holidays, Part 2 - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Balancing the Holidays, Part 2

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Balancing the Holidays, Part 2

A year ago in this space, we offered some pretty good advice for maintaining balance during the holidays. The big ideas (for those who missed it) were:

  • Routine is for January.
  • Learn to execute the well-chosen no.
  • Keep your body in tune.
  • Remember Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree.

These are still the four points we’d emphasize today for this upcoming holiday season, but we scoured the web and surveyed people on social media to arrive at a few others, in case last year’s recommendations didn’t quite do it for you. Whatever works for you is really the key, and maybe something in this list will jolt you into a proactive approach managing holiday stress.

Minimize sources of stress
There are some things you can’t get away from. If the boss needs five deliverables by the end of the month, you have to screw your courage to the sticking place and get it done. Still, there are other sources of stress you can negotiate with yourself. If gift-giving is causing you to lose sleep, write yourself a pass this year and simplify the process as far as you can live with. It’s true that everyone wants to give the gift that is still remembered months later, but has anyone ever really complained about getting a gift card? Or consider buying all your gifts online, all from one retailer if you can manage it. Whatever the stress, ask yourself what could possibly be done to shrink it as close to nothing as possible, and if the trade off isn’t severe, just do it!

Consider unplugging
There are two parts to this, as suggested by several sources. First, if you aren’t already drawing strict lines between work time and every other time, do it. Away from the office? No work emails! Or, if that’s not possible, set yourself strict, regular times when you’ll be available to take or return calls, and to deal with email, perhaps in that first hour after the kids are in bed, and maybe that half hour before you have to get them up. It might drive you a bit crazy at first, not checking emails on your phone whenever you have a moment, but you’ll get used to it, and in the acclimation you’ll find time to breathe, and to think about other important stuff.

Second, give yourself a break from media that’s less than energizing. If you can be allowed not to follow the news, read the paper, or look at email blasts from your local outlets, you can clear your mind for seasonal concerns like decking the halls and ringing in the new. Current events tend to slow down over the holidays anyway, and besides: look around you. There are a lot of people who pay no attention to whatever’s on the news, and they seem perfectly happy. You can be that clueless too, for six to eight weeks.

Don’t cram the planner
One source of stress is the unexpected, which of course you can’t predict. Yet you can still plan for it. Leave space in your daily schedule to handle what might come up and cannot be delayed. Reserve the hour after lunch for unexpected demands as Plan A, then when those demands don’t pop up, go to Plan B: those other things you’d like to take care of if you find windows of time. Plan a similar window in your personal time (perhaps at 6:00 since you’re not watching the news!). This sounds like a no-brainer of an idea, but a planned time of no plans is a huge stress-saver, and you might even take it a step further: schedule a planned day of no plans. Remember that balance sometimes means staying still.

Work out even more
This is our favorite suggestion from the masses. Last year, we offered a reminder to keep your body in tune, knowing that when stress piles up, exercise is often the first victim. Some people suggest the opposite: in times of increased stress, make extra time at the gym, or take an extra walk, or do something that gets your body moving even more than during the rest of the year. When external forces work against your peace of mind, the correct response isn’t less time devoted to your health. It’s more time. When you feel a cold coming on, you do your best to boost your immunity. When you feel stress coming on, fight it with a few more laps in the pool or a second, shorter workout. You’ll be better able to handle whatever the holidays are about to throw at you!

Reference Links:
Our own article about keeping it together during the holidays!


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Work-Life Balance: Balancing the Holidays, Part 2 - Executive Leadership Articles

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