Getting the best out of the Festive Season


The festive season is just around the corner and investing some time now to pause and prepare for the oncoming festivities can make a big difference in our ability to enjoy the much-needed time away from the desk. The year-end tends to creep up on us quickly and rushing to get everything done in time can leave us pulling up a chair to Christmas lunch feeling exhausted and stressed.  

What causes Christmas Stress?

  • The mad rush to finish work projects and tie off any loose ends

  • Overspending. We can get caught up in the excitement and succumb to the pressure and end up spending too much on presents for family, friends, and colleagues

  • Over-pleasing. Trying to meet the expectations of family and friends and dividing time between family functions

  • Responding to work requests and demands while on leave

  • Overeating and drinking, leading to fatigue and discomfort

Preparing for Christmas

Having a plan for managing the demands of the festive season can allow us to enjoy what can be a wonderful time of year. Apart from the opportunity to spend time with love ones and have fun, holidays replenish our physical and mental ‘energy banks’, allowing us to dig deeper and think smarter when we return to work.

Remove work email from our devices

You don’t get any real benefits from a holiday unless you ‘detach’ from work – which means unplugging from back-lit screens and switching off the work emails. Research shows people who successfully detach from work are more satisfied with their lives and experience fewer symptoms of psychological strain.

Date your “out of office” email reply a day after your return – this will give you a day of grace, helping you to ease back into work, get on top of your emails and plan the week ahead.

Talk to family about gifts

If you are budgeting, spend some time early in the season to arrange a family and or workplace Kris Kringle, or perhaps ask people to bring a plate of food instead of presents. Setting a gift limit can also be helpful and paying for items with cash can give you an immediate sense of what you are spending.

Tracking what you spend can help too. There are plenty of simple budget or spending apps available online, if a pencil and paper don’t work for you.  

Be patient with each other

Remind yourself what Christmas is about and give family tensions an ‘amnesty’ to simply enjoy the best in each other, try to ignore the worst, and talk about what we are looking forward to in the year to come. Good questions to ask might include “what went well for you this year?” “what do you hope next year looks like for you?”

Sidestep conflict

Consider what topics might be triggers, for example, religion, money, commentary on people’s weight, politics or old family conflicts, and don't talk about it. If someone brings up the topic, use distraction and quickly move on to something else.

If tension arises, excuse yourself for a short time and then change conversation topic. If the issue needs to be addressed, it’s often best left until the new year.

Reduce the need for Christmas gatherings to be picture perfect

Focus on keeping menu’s simple, accept the roast may be slightly overcooked, and learn to laugh when the dog chews through a branch or two of the Christmas tree!

Allow yourself to be in the moment

Slow it down and remind yourself to focus on what really matters. Take pleasure in the small moments, notice the things that you are grateful for. Be present, let yourself laugh and let go of small frustrations.

Drink in moderation

Drinking to excess can create fatigue, irritability, and increase the likelihood of saying or doing something you’ll later regret. Switch up alcohol with water or another beverage of choice.

Keep moving

Keeping up your regular exercise routine can give you the fitness and stamina to make it through the demands of the festive season.

Donate your time

If you are feeling alone or disconnected from family or friends over the Christmas, there are many charities that would love you to volunteer for them over the holiday period.

Need assistance with well-being and mental health at work?

Now is a great time time to talk about your 2019 training program.

Sarah Earnshaw