Be Merry, Be Well: Self-care tips for the holidays.


The holiday season marks a time for cheerful celebration after cheerful celebration. That, coupled with a full workload, can make for a mentally demanding winter. That’s why we’ve come up with five tips to help you put your best foot forward this season and avoid potential stressors that can lead to burnout. 

1. Set your priorities at work.

Short holiday weeks are bittersweet. On one hand, the weekend is longer; but, on the other hand, there is less time to complete a full workload. It’s important to make sure your limited time in the office is spent wisely. Here are some suggestions for working smarter in less time:

  • Collaborate.
  • Set realistic timelines. Delay less time-sensitive projects until after the holidays so you can invest more time in another.
  • Say no. Saying no is tricky and can often seem impossible, especially when you’re trying to advance a mission. But it’s important to realize it’s impossible to do it all well. Author Adam Grant explains the necessity of saying no once in a while: “Saying no frees you up to say yes when it matters most.” Read about his eight ways of saying no with a positive spin. Try a few and make note of which tactic garners positive results.


2. Get some sleep.

A well-rested mind will be your best friend as deadlines at work race towards you, personal commitments increase, and temperatures drop. Sleeping has been known to not only boost your creativity, but your immune system as well and both can help you have more productive workdays. 

Also, as we mentioned in our Be Your Best Valentine: Two Ways to Put You First post, make sure to use your personal time and vacation days. This is time that you’ve earned, so allow yourself a chance to take a break and recharge and to be mentally and physically present with your friends and family. When you’re always on the clock, you miss out on all the fun holiday memory-making and leave yourself vulnerable to burnout. If you can’t completely unplug while out of the office, we understand. Try scheduling a brief time block during your personal time or vacation where you check your email, then go back to enjoying your time off! 

3. Party only if you want to.

Feministing has a great guide on how to survive potentially stressful social encounters this holiday season, including politically charged dinner conversations with uncles. If you don’t feel comfortable attending a soirée — work-related or personal — for whatever reason, consider politely declining the invitation early in the process and hunkering down with a good book instead. It may seem like it’s better to bite the bullet and attend an uncomfortable dinner, but if the experience will just put you and others in a terrible mood, it’s better to pass. Instead, consider arranging a smaller gathering in the New Year for some much- needed catching up without the difficult conversations.  

4. Reach out.

The holiday season can be difficult for those who are estranged from their families, suffering a loss or illness, or are unemployed. Try to be aware and sensitive as these circumstances could be impacting your friends, family members, and coworkers. If it feels appropriate, offer words of encourage or support, a chance to listen to that person talk about their experience, or an invitation to an easy-going holiday gathering. These small gestures can make a big difference. And needless to say, it feels good to lift up other people. 

5. Budget.

If we let it, the holiday season can come with a hefty price tag. Gifts, dinners, parties - the expenses can become worrisome as they add up. Financial planners at Society of Grownups recently published a list of ways to help young people budget for the holidays. All you need is a little resolve and some clear priorities. Similarly, the expectation of spending a lot of money can be stressful, especially if you are sticking to a leaner budget. The Kitchn has a great article about how to enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank.

We hope these tips are helpful and that they will be useful beyond the holiday season. If you have self-care tips, feel free to post them in the comments below.

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