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Work-Life Balance: Keeping It Together During The Holidays
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Work-Life Balance: Keeping It Together During The Holidays- Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Keeping It Together During The Holidays

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: Keeping It Together During The Holidays

Sometimes, balance looks like grace under pressure: we tiptoe through the minefields with smiles on our faces, bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan with the latest best-seller in one hand and a rolled-up yoga mat in the other. Other times, it looks more like plate-spinning while riding a unicycle, and why not? It might be less graceful and require more effort, but keeping the plates on their spindles is the best we can do, and balance is balance. The holiday season can be more like the latter, a crazy sprint from one plate to another. “I’ll sleep after MLK Day,” we repeat to ourselves, “if I can just make it there.” Yet most of us strive for a more serene end-of-year run, and we should, because the holidays aren’t supposed to be about checklists and obligations; they’re supposed to be about appreciating our blessings and trying to be a blessing to others, so in that spirit, here are a few ideas to consider.

Routine is for January
Too many special events get thrown into the balance at this time of year, and they are bigger and meaner, so take all the monthly and weekly events that make your life wonderful, and call a hiatus until January, if you can. Your monthly book club can wait; nobody’s going to do the reading anyway, and this lets everyone off the hook. Even obligations like volunteer work can usually be rescheduled or put on hold. The routine you spend so much time establishing becomes a burden and an extra source of stress when it becomes too much to keep in balance. You’re not a bad person for hitting the pause button on some of these efforts; you’re doing what you need in order to maintain your best self.

Learn to Execute the Well-Chosen No
The holidays are a time of tradition, but sometimes even the best traditions need to be evaluated. Again, if a tradition or a collection of traditions is cluttering your schedule so that everything else is stressful, take some actions in self-preservation, and send regrets for a select few, especially if they can wait until next year. Yes, it will be sad to miss the annual sorority get-together, but if it’s an annual event, ask for a pass this year and commit to being there next year, when you will be able to say no to something else. This may mean begging out of things on behalf of your children, too, once in a while. It hurts a little, but remember: you’re trying to keep things in perspective, and perspective gets thrown out of whack in the holiday season. This doesn’t apply only to annual events, but those new things that pop up every year, too. They all sound great, but if they don’t work gracefully into your plate-spinning routine, forcing them in will only jeopardize the other plates. Sheer force of will and priorities can keep things sane.

Keep Your Body in Tune
One of the first things to go when our lives get crazy during the holidays is our attention to physical health. This is backward thinking. If you’re about to go on a very long road trip, you don’t wait until you return from the journey to make sure your car is in shape. Don’t let your body suffer in this time of strangeness. You might not be able to do all the healthy things you do during the rest of the year, but make it a top priority to keep things running smoothly. Get your sleep. Get some fresh air, even if the weather is lousy. Everyone touts the benefits of exercise first thing in the morning, but don’t scoff at the benefits or beauty a brisk, late-night walk can bring. You’ll feel better for the time spent resting your brain and boosting those endorphins.

Remember Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree
Whatever your personal beliefs, the message of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree applies: if you win at attending all the events, giving all the gifts, and singing all the carols, but sacrifice peace and goodwill toward others, you haven’t done anyone any good, especially not yourself. Do it all with a smile, and if you can’t find your smile, don’t move until you find it. And keep in mind that the surest way to feel miserable about yourself is to spend all your time focusing on your problems. This might seem to contradict the whole priorities thing, but when you look at your priorities through the lens of the spirit of the season, certain inconveniences become opportunities, while certain others become distractions. However you define the spirit of the season, filter all your decision making through it, and let things sift into place.


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Work-Life Balance: Keeping It Together During The Holidays- Executive Leadership Articles

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