Written by Laura Antolín
Christmas time is for ornaments, carols and family reunions, but for many people it is also the harbinger of stress and anxiety.
December has become a month in which commitments mark the order of the day and time is short. There’s trees to decorate, greeting cards and last-minute gifts to buy, as well as holiday parties to attend and endure. On top of that, day jobs don’t come to a stop.
All things in moderation, as the saying goes
The problem with the Christmas holidays is that we often juggle a million things at once, and we end up feeling overwhelmed. It seems almost a race against the clock, instead of a season to enjoy with our dear ones. In fact, a study conducted by Lea McLeod points out that only 41% of men and 27% of women are able to relax during the holidays. It is not surprising that 56% of employees suffer from work stress during this period.
So, how do we prevent the Grinch from stealing Christmas? Luxe Talent has some advices for you to keep the “merry” in Christmas:
Leave everything arranged
Taking time off during the winter holidays? Leave everything arranged before leaving the office — even if it’s just for a few days, and don’t forget to set an automated out-of-office response. Let people know you’re away, when you will return to the office and whom they can contact in the meantime. Make your message professional.
Avoid an overstuffed inbox
Make sure you have enough storage capacity in your work e-mail inbox before you go on holidays. Take the opportunity to clean it out, as well as your voicemail inbox. It will be a problem if you don’t receive the messages from colleagues and clients because your inbox is too full.
During the weeks leading up to Christmas, make a (realistic) list of everything that needs to be done — both at work and home, and then set out to tick these off. Prioritizing here is key. Decide which of these are more important and need to go to the top of the list. Skip the rest.
Ensure you’re adhering to your deadlines and, more importantly, plan short breaks from time to time. This will also prevent you from having seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that’s brought on by the change of seasons and whose symptoms typically first appear in the late fall — just in time for the holidays. This mood disorder is mainly triggered by the lack of sunlight, so taking a walk in nature will do you good.
Don’t try to do everything on your own
You have planned all the tasks you need to do; now it’s time to carry them out. However, don’t put the entire burden on your shoulders. Share the responsibility with other people. Christmas holidays are a time for family, so you can try to involve your family members in the festive preparations. That way you can kill two birds with one stone: you will feel more relaxed and you will enjoy family time.
As soon as you start thinking that you might be taking too much or that you can’t cope with the pressure, ask for help. That’s your mind sending you a warning, so listen to it. And remember you should only take on what brings you joy. If there’s a party you don’t feel like attending, don’t; if you get stressed by the baking, why not buying baked goods from the bakery instead? It will let you stay calm and enjoy, and that should be your priority.
Make it simple
If during your winter holidays you can’t avoid sending greeting cards, seeing people or cooking for your relatives, try to simplify all these activities. For example, you may not need to send cards to everyone, choose those you are really close with. Or don’t include a personal letter; try to think of other ways to make it simple.
The same goes for the food: do you really need to cook huge amounts of food for everyone? Maybe each person could bring something, or you could even buy some delicious food, who is going to complain?
Be conscious of what you eat
There are so many tempting foods in Christmas and we are so emotionally overwhelmed, that it’s very easy to fall into any form of unhealthy eating patterns, such as overeating or emotionally eating.
First of all, ask yourself: am I eating because I am hungry or because I am stressed out? If you eat to relieve your emotions despite having a poor appetite, then you may want to put into practice some of these hacks. Have always some healthy food at hand for every meal; be aware of your intake, but don’t count calories — you want to enjoy after all; and practice mindfulness, meaning: listen to your body. Eating is a great comfort activity because of its immediate effects, but you shouldn’t seek for comfort in food. Try to find instead another outlet for stress, such as running, yoga or reading.
That’s easy to say, I know, but the consequences of overeating are bloated stomachs, metabolic disorders and feelings of regret, to name just a few.
Be smart when buying gifts
Is your holiday spending out of control? Let’s be honest, we usually put off shopping until the last minute and then, anxious, we rushed to the shops and we spent more money than we actually would wish or even can afford. How can we avoid this? By planning and buying early. If you make a list of the people you want to buy gifts in advance, then you won’t spend that much money in just a single month.
Make sure to set a reasonable budget and stay within that limit. Families often feel pressured to spend more than they can afford over Christmas, but remember that a good gift doesn’t have to be expensive. You could agree with your family and friends to a gift exchange instead, such as Secret Santa. That way everyone gets a gift, but only needs to spend on one present.
Something thoughtful could also be a good idea, or just try to find alternatives to show love for your family and friends beyond gift-giving.
If one can be sure of anything, it’s that Christmas can be wonderful and we all deserve to enjoy these holidays; so put your stress aside, life is already too complicated.