a woman feeling holiday stress while working at a laptopThe holiday season is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year. Spending time with loved ones, creating family traditions and unplugging from reality for a few days — it all sounds magical, right?

However, for most of us, the holidays bring a lot of stress. Whether it be holiday travel, gift buying or wrapping up that year-end assignment, we all seem to be in a constant state of stress this time of year.

The American Psychological Association shows that 8 out of 10 people anticipate increased stress over the holidays. Though the holiday season can be a stressful time with both personal and professional responsibilities and commitments, it’s important to find ways to reduce stress and escape that “fight or flight” headspace.

Check out these five healthy ways to manage holiday stress.

1. Set priorities

The moment you feel that sense of obligation, it’s best to ask yourself if this has to be done. A lot of times, especially this time of year, we become reactionary. The mindset we may fall into is that the end of the year is the time for doing. We rush to check off as many items on our to-do lists. But if we stop and examine our priorities, it will help set and create a go-forward plan that is achievable.

2. Keep it simple

Once you’ve recognized your priorities, it’s best to set realistic expectations and identify what can get done. Get your team involved and delegate. For example, send out an invite for a team brainstorm or work session to divide the workload. Teamwork makes the dream work! Understanding your limits and accepting help will reward you tremendously.

3. Maintain healthy habits

When stress enters our life, oftentimes we are thrown off from our normal routines and schedule. We tend to cut corners at mealtime or sleep. This impacts our bodies and mental health more than we realize. Do your best to carve out some time for exercise. Even a 10-minute walk can help shift your perspective and boost your mood. Maintaining healthy sleep habits (7-8 hours each night) will also help you feel calmer and content the next day.

4. Take time to celebrate and reflect

It’s important to look at the year as a whole and recognize all that you and your team have accomplished. Whether it’s an in-office luncheon or after-work happy hour, be sure to reward yourself. Giving yourself even an hour break to unplug with coworkers and be social is not only good for the soul but creates contagious energy.

5. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude

Have you ever met someone who is able to maintain a positive outlook regardless of what’s going on around them? They seem to focus on the good in their life, instead of focusing on the negative. This takes some practice, but certainly can be accomplished.

Be generous with loved ones, colleagues and friends. Give compliments to brighten someone’s day. Keeping a gratitude journal is another great way to promote gratitude. Greater feelings of emotional well-being can be yours with a bit of practice.

What are some ways you’ve handled stress around the holiday season with your team? We’d love to hear it! Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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