Ahhh…December. The month where Tuesday is the new Friday, end of year deadlines are looming, and everyone is making up for the two years of celebrations and festivities lost to Covid. It should be a joyous time, but it can also be an immensely stressful time. Not only do you feel like the “to do” list is even longer than usual (I’m looking at you gift wrapping, card writing and holiday childcare) and the emotional burden ever growing (juggling family relations and the cardinal sin of missing the nativity) but, this year, the added burden of the current economic climate has got people feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the holiday season.
We all know that building healthy boundaries is the key to success, so why is it so hard to do and what should we be prioritising?
1. Make time for yourself –even if it is only for a few minutes’ peace. Try and carve out some time to read a couple of pages of a book, go fora quick mind clearing walk or call a friend to catch up. Try scheduling these activities into your work diary if this means you are less likely to miss them.
2. Streamline your social calendar – Learn when to say “no”. It is easy to become overwhelmed at this time of year. Think which events you actually want to attend, and which will be beneficial to attend and do not fear saying a polite “thanks, but no thanks” to the others. If you find that tough, consider scheduling social engagement free days and drafting a standard polite and charming response turning down invitations, so that as soon as the invitation comes in, you are ready to decline.
3. Decide your boundaries - This can be as simple as making it a rule that you do not check (or at least answer!) emails after 7:00 p.m, or that you always take a 30-minute walk break at lunch.
4. Communicate those boundaries - Once you have your priorities and values in place, communicate them. Put on your out of office, schedule personal events in your calendar or have a sign to show others you are busy and should not be interrupted (wearing headphones or closing your office door).
5. Model your boundaries – It is all too easy to get caught up in a spiral of hectic work mode and being perpetually busy. By modelling the boundaries that you set for yourself, especially if you have a senior role, this not only provides protection for you, but creates a positive work environment within which others can do the same.
6. Be honest – Try not to hide your emotions and the stresses you are feeling. It is so tempting to do so, especially in a work environment, but being open and talking about your concerns can often in itself lessen the load and create a supportive work environment in which others feel able to do the same.
7. Routine – Try and stick to your normal routine as much as possible. Tempting as the celebrations are, don’t forgot the building blocks of sleep, keeping active and eating something other than selection boxes.
Set yourself realistic expectations, be kind to yourself and enter the holidays feeling calm and in control!