Coping With Work In The Lead-Up To Christmas

We’ve all been through that pre-Christmas work stress at some point throughout our lives. In a recent report from CQ University, Dr Malcolm Johnson offers some advice…

As we approach Christmas, it is likely that stress begins to build. An intensity of workload, complete with a small holiday deadline can sometimes become quite a dilemma. The intensification of these pressures are likely to increase the work-to-life conflict that occurs around this time of year.

CQ University Business academic, Dr Malcolm Johnson, describes this process as a “monsoonal build-up” and believes that staff burnout, resulting in staff turnover in the New Year is a direct result of this.

“Christmas provides a time for reflection and recalibration. With societal changes in values there is a shift towards higher prioritisation of family and private life,” he said.

Understanding that work/family life conflict is highest for those who place deep value on both work and family, and in some aid, Dr Johnson provides the following New Year resolution checklists:

For individuals:

christmas is a time for reflection
  • Identify what success means to you in work and non-work domains/roles and how you are going to measure progress.
  • Clarify and then communicate what is essential for successfully aligning important aspects of work and life.
  • Diplomatically decline requests that take you away from what you need to achieve.
  • Consider private initiatives that decrease stress and increase quality of private life by using support services to lessen the drudgery of household chores
  • Consciously consider boundary management strategies, whether this is to keep work and non-work domains strictly separate or to integrate domains as tasks and responsibilities arise.

For organisations:

work life balance
  • Provide an opportunity for employees to shape their work role so they achieve work-life objectives that meaningfully add to their quality of life.
  • Support work-life initiatives such as flexible working times or part-time working which have been proven to enhance job satisfaction and organisational commitment.
  • Monitor the work-life balance of employees, particularly in highly demanding work environments, where work-life conflict can cause serious health problems.
  • Negotiate work-life boundary management strategies and policies that are supportive of agreed ‘principles of professional practice’.

“As evidence of your commitment to these principles, be sure to leave your laptop in your briefcase for the duration of your holiday break!” Dr. Johnson continued.

Here, at CANSTAR, we have also put together a list of top tips to follow this holiday season to avoid the extra stress:

1. Plan ahead

Instead of leaving everything to the last minute, take some time out of your day to make a detailed Christmas plan. Start by making a list of things you can do before the holiday season, such as shopping, presents, decorations, and/or travel arrangements. Try to prioritise the items on your list: can they be done now? Are they essential? Many recipes can be, at least in part, made ahead of time and frozen, so consider that option as well.

2. Delegate

If you feel like the entire pressure of the holiday season is entirely on you, it’s okay to delegate tasks and reduce your workload. If you have children, get them to help with small, but important tasks like decorating the tree, or wrapping presents. If you’re hosting the family Christmas lunch, see if you can get different family members to each bake a different course and bring them all along to save you from cooking everything. You’ll be surprised how much time you’ll save just from this step!

3. Small tasks

When you’re balancing a number of different tasks, it can be hard to see anything but a giant workload just waiting to be done. And most of the time, you don’t even know where to start! It’s important to remember, especially around Christmas time, that by breaking each workload into smaller, more manageable tasks and tackling them one by one, you can get through them a lot more efficiently, and a lot less stressfully.

4. Avoid excessive alcohol/caffeine

When your body is under stress, it produces a hormone called cortisol, which prepares you for ‘fight or flight’ situations. It is the same hormone triggered by the caffeine levels in coffee so opt for decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea this holiday season, to help calm your stress levels, and aid in sleeping. Most other de-stressing articles may tell you to avoid alcohol altogether forgetting the fact that it’s Christmas! In saying that, by taking the time to enjoy that Irish Cream, try to avoid excessive alcohol consumption as it dehydrates your body, and ensure you keep your water levels up.

5. Know when to stop

Sometimes when we get into a stressful situation, it can be difficult to remember to rest. We get so focused on ensuring everything is perfect, we forget to take care of ourselves. Don’t forget that it’s your Christmas too so ensure you take the time to relax, have fun, laugh, and be merry. Enjoy this magical time of the year and everything it has to offer!

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