5 Ways to Deal with Work Stress Around the Holidays

While the holiday season gives us a chance to reaffirm our most important personal relationships, it can also be extremely stressful. One of the biggest causes of stress during the holidays is our work commitments. Taking on extra tasks for coworkers who are on vacation, having travel plans derailed by a last-minute crisis and all that scrambling around to complete any assignments before the office shuts down can all add significant anxiety to our lives. Here are a few strategies on how to cope with work stress.

Don’t Take Things Personally

It’s important to keep in mind that no matter how pressured you’re feeling by holiday stress, you aren’t the only person who feels that way. If your coworkers or supervisors are acting especially irritable, don’t take their behavior personally. They’re also dealing with the strain of having to meet a slew of last-minute deadlines while also balancing a number of familial commitments. Instead of lashing out, offer a sympathetic ear. Allowing a person to talk through their anxieties will make them feel better and putting aside your own concerns to help someone else will help lower your own anxiety level.

Avoid Unhealthy Christmas Party Food

While the seemingly endless trays of fatty, salty and sugary treats available at an office Christmas party are undeniably appealing, don’t give in to temptation. As the American Heart Association Holiday Survival Guide points out, chowing down a bunch of unhealthy foods will have the effect of spiking your blood sugar and raising your blood pressure. In effect, indulging in holiday comfort foods will make you feel more stressed out, not less. Resist the unhealthy fare and make up a plate of more nutritious snacks like fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Get in a Little More Exercise

As the holidays tend to bring extra stress to our lives, it’s a good idea to make some lifestyle changes that will help you process the added anxiety. Instead of riding the elevator up to your floor, take the stairs. During your lunch break, take a walk around the block. And cut your holiday movie marathon short and get a brisk jog in after work. Getting exercise will not only help your body cope with the physical effects of stress, it’ll also help you maintain your mental clarity. And if there’s one thing we could all use during the holidays, it’s a boost to our mental faculties.

Talk to Someone

If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by added demands at work or holiday related pressures in your personal life, express your feelings to one of your friends or loved ones. If none are available, consider taking part in one of the many community activities that tend to spring up in the holiday season, like caroling. Expressing your feelings to someone, even if they aren’t part of your inner circle, can play a big part in helping you cope with stress by reminding you that you are never as isolated as you can sometimes feel.

Plan Ahead

The one good thing about holiday stress is that it’s predictable. You can say with some certainty that as summer turns in the fall, your coworkers and supervisors will want to get home to see their families, wrap up all of their existing assignments as quickly as possible and will generally be far edgier than normal. With this information in mind, you can reduce your stress level by organizing all the tasks you need to complete before holiday break, talking to your colleagues about where they are with various projects and conferring with your boss to find out if there are any newly discovered problems that you’ll need to resolve before going off to spend time with your family. As this Mayo Clinic post on fighting holiday’s stress explains, doing everything you can to avoid last-minute scrambles will make you feel calm and in control.