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  • Melissa Sims

Embracing the Season

The combo of the holiday season and year-end deadlines often bring a whirlwind of activities and responsibilities. It's a time when our calendars brim with obligations, from wrapping up important projects at work to preparing for festive celebrations. Amidst this hustle, it’s crucial to stay calm and focused. Here's how you can navigate this busy period with grace and maintain your inner peace.


Many of you are going through year-end audits, required reporting, staff taking time off, prepping for the holidays…it can definitely be seen as a chaotic time. But you don’t have to look at it that way! Here at Work2Live, we have a lot going on too. From our own reporting requirements, making plans and goals for next year, making sure we can sustain our sanity while bringing back the podcast, IRS looming deadlines, and personal activities to deal with, it feels like a bit of a whirlwind at this time of year. It’s easy to get lost in the moment, putting our heads down and plowing through. But all we are creating for ourselves by doing that is exhaustion, stress, and eventually burn out. So what do we do here at our office? We take off! We are totally clear on the fact that if we don’t give ourselves some time to decompress, we are going to be completely useless when we start the new year. Best to start with a clear mind, and that means wrapping up our accomplishment lists so that there’s no past regrets or future anxieties to deal with on January 2nd. 


If we can all stay present through this time of year, we may actually enjoy it a lot more and be better prepared once we get to the other side of the holidays. When you are fully engaged in the here and now, the stress of past and future fades away.


Here are some strategies to help you stay present when you need it most:


1. Mindful Breathing: Practice deep breathing exercises. Focus on the sensation of air entering and leaving your body. This simple act can bring you back to the present and clear your mind.


2. Mono-tasking: You know by now that you cannot multi-task. Why add to your stress by task switching? When you concentrate on one task at a time, you’re more likely to complete it with higher quality and less stress. That can be work-related, or even personal items. ONE THING AT A TIME.


3. Taking Breaks: Short, regular breaks can help reset your mind. A five-minute walk or a moment of stretching can bring your attention back to the present.


Resist the Pressure of Others

This is a big one around my house. I have never been big on tradition (thank you, mom), and I love having something new to try every holiday. I don’t do family photos, I don’t love mailing cards out (they end up in the trash anyway), I just don’t like repetitiveness! But I married into a family that doesn’t share that sense of adventure and it is difficult at this time of year to please everyone. And unfortunately for me, I am a people-pleaser. I struggle internally with keeping up with the Joneses and staying true to myself. It’s easy to succumb to external pressures, but staying true your own values is crucial. Here’s how to not give in:


1. Set Boundaries: Politely but firmly set boundaries with family, friends, and colleagues. It’s okay to say no to certain gatherings or projects if they conflict with your values or mental health. If you just don’t have the capacity to complete something that can wait until after the holidays, WAIT. Ask for some breathing room - there’s nothing wrong with that. 


2. Communicate Clearly: Be open about your limits. Let others know what you can and cannot do. Clear communication can prevent misunderstandings and undue pressure.


3. Prioritize: Decide what's most important to you and focus on those tasks or events. It’s better to do a few things well than to overcommit and feel overwhelmed.


Practice Self-Compassion

Amping up your self-compassion will allow you to cultivate patience at a time when that may be wearing thin. 


1. Forgive Yourself: If you don’t meet a deadline or can’t attend every holiday event, don’t be too hard on yourself. Acknowledge your efforts and move on.


2. Positive Self-Talk: Replace critical or negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your strengths and achievements.


3. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed. Whether it’s delegating tasks at work or asking family members to share holiday responsibilities, it’s okay to reach out.


Prioritizing your well-being can increase your patience and resilience. Here are some self-care practices that are very effective once you’ve established a solid foundation of self-compassion:


1. Regular Exercise: Physical activity is a great stress reliever. Even a brief walk or a short yoga session can make a difference. I know right now is tough because of tight schedules, but I have found that I am way more productive when I feel good about myself. Exercising, whether it’s a walk down the street, or a full blown gym session, will have a massive positive effect on your mood. 


2. Healthy Eating: NOOOOOO! Not during the holidays! But yes, now is even more important! Nutritious food can boost your mood and energy levels. Go ahead and indulge! Just make sure you are getting enough healthy fluids and vegetables to balance it all out. 


3. Adequate Sleep: Don’t compromise on sleep. A well-rested mind is more productive and less prone to stress. I don’t know about you, but I am pretty useless when I am tired. I know if I want to get anything done, I need rest. Allow yourself some breaks throughout the day, and make sure you are getting some shut-eye. 


I really feel like each holiday season breezes by and the flurry of activity is a blur. I don’t want that for me, or for any of you! Remember, the holiday season and year-end deadlines don’t have to be a source of stress. By staying present, resisting external pressures, practicing self-compassion, and emphasizing self-care, you can navigate these times with calmness and focus. It’s about balance and understanding that taking care of yourself is the first step towards meeting any external obligations with grace and efficiency.


Staying calm and focused during this busy period is not just about getting through your lists; it’s about enjoying the journey and celebrating your achievements, big or small, celebrating your loved ones, and celebrating life in general! So, take a deep breath, prioritize your well-being, and step into the new year with confidence and peace.

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