Career Hacks to Reduce the Stress of the Season

Tis the season to be stressed out, fa la la la la, la la, la, la!

Much of life’s stress can be boiled down to attempting to control things we can’t control.

  • What others think of us.
  • How bad traffic will be.
  • If our child gets sick.
  • When technology will crash.

During the holidays the list of things to control becomes even longer. Bad weather, late deliveries, and long lines are everywhere, ready to rob the joy of the season. Engaging these strategies can help:

  • Protect your time. It’s an inevitability that many tasks will take twice as long as planned, so stay a step ahead by building in space: block chunks of time on your calendar for spillover, create an auto-responder to give you relief on particularly busy days (e.g., “Thanks for your message. I’m unable to reply until.…”), or use sick time when needed (mental health days count, too!) to avoid running yourself ragged.
  • Get smart about office gifts.  Avoid the “what-to-get-for-who-and-how-much” conundrum by getting creative. For example, purchase a “popcorn of the month” subscription for your officemates to share instead of individual gifts. Or, maybe you’ve heard the office kitchen could use a toaster or flavored coffee – surprise your co-workers with something they can all use! Sure, not everyone will partake, but this is part of de-stressing.  You need to let go of what others think.
  • Graciously decline. Many professionals belong to associations, task forces and community activities in addition to their day jobs. Everyone is celebrating now, offering awesome chances to network. However, choose festivities wisely. If it’ll take an hour in traffic to spend just 30 minutes at an event, that might be the one to skip. It’s easy to convince yourself that every event is important, but this might just be FOMO kicking in. Take good care of yourself so you can enjoy the season too.
  • Consider alternatives.  While the holidays are a perfect time to reconnect with clients, vendors and other business acquaintances, you don’t need to spend the busiest time of the year licking countless envelopes that likely get lost in the shuffle. Instead, why not send New Year’s cards (or fruit baskets, cookie trays or cheese platters)?  Most don’t send greetings (or treats!) in mid-January, so you’ll surely stand out, while saving yourself precious time in December.
  • Mind your thoughts. When you say (or even think) messages like “I’ll never get this all done” or “I’m so stressed out,” your brain believes you and focuses on things in your environment that prove that belief (it’s a way for your brain to avoid cognitive dissonance). Instead, remind yourself “I’ve got this!” (cause you do!), and watch the environment react in kind!

When you step back from being the manager of the universe, you begin to realize things don’t fall apart as easily as you imagined. Life becomes a lot more jolly and a lot less stressful.

Happy fa la la la hunting!

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