Inspiring Women's Leadership

Dr. Mark’s Holiday Stress Remedies

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holiday-greetingThe holidays are a time of year when lots of feelings are close to the surface, so it is a good time to really practice taking care of yourself, at home and at work.

Because the holidays bring out strong emotions, it helps to remember that we don’t know what is going on in the lives and thoughts of our co-workers, so if someone lashes out at you or is in a foul mood during the holidays, try not to take it personally.

I’ve put together a short list of techniques and tips to help you get and stay centered at the holidays.

Cultivate a “Growth Mindset” To Be More Resilient

Stay positive by trying to see the best in people and situations. Be curious about approaching people and work challenges in a new way. This is a growth mindset. It can increase your resilience at any time of year, but comes in especially handy at this time of year.

When Your Emotions Do Overflow at Work

Sometimes your emotions will get the best of you, and they’ll surface at work. These things happen. It’s not the end of the world, and below are some strategies for coping.

Take Five. If you do get overwhelmed by your own feelings or someone else’s feelings, find a quiet place to take a break. A brisk walk around the block can do wonders to relieve some stress – get some fresh air and a change of scenery!

Breath. Also, using your breath is a fabulous tool. Do some deep breathing right into your belly, inhaling to a slow count of three. Hold for a moment and exhale to a slow count of three. Repeat this a few times.

Distraction. If your emotions get the best of you and you tear up, focus again on your breath – a great tool for dealing with frustration, anger, and sadness. The extra oxygen soothes your nerve endings and gives you something else to think about. Listen to some upbeat music or go to the kitchen or break area and get a very cold glass of water – the key is using other sensations to distract your mind and your body.

When You Can’t Stop the Tears

If you do start to cry – no worries. You’ve can handle it two ways:

Pay as little attention to it as possible, move on and don’t bring attention to it

Or, be open and direct: “Excuse me for tearing up, I am finding this topic/situation/conversation difficult at the moment.” Then, take a deep breath and move on.

Or, blending the two, you can always tell a little white lie like, “Excuse me, I am consumed with allergies today!” or “I’ve got a boulder in my eye!” It gives you and your audience a distraction and a way to move on.

Either way, don’t over explain or over apologize.

Tears are not a weakness – Crying is a natural way to reduce stress in the body.

When You See Red

If anger is the culprit then, again, use your breath – always a go-to tactic for dealing with emotions.

Step away. If you get angry in the midst of an interaction, excuse yourself – ask “Can we pursue this conversation another time?” This creates space that will give you time for the emotion to recede, and your logic to take over.

Write it out. Grab a pad and a pen or pencil and start writing. Write fast and let it flow. It’s important to write with your hands, not your keyboard. Then take what you’ve written and tear up and throw it away.

Talk it out. Or, find a friend to vent to and then problem solve with. Make sure you are out of hearing distance from the person you are angry with!

Hugs heal. Get an in-person or a virtual hug from someone; that is so good for the mind and body. A 10 to 20 second hug releases oxytocin and dopamine, the love and feel good hormones. It gives your whole neurochemistry a big boost!

And, remember – this is the end of the year and not everything needs to be completed. Take a look at what is on your plate and determine what can wait. Decide what absolutely needs to be done and then meet with your boss and discuss priorities for less important items. Have some thought-through solutions to present. This is the end of the year, not the end of the world.

The Doctor’s Prescription For Happy Holidays

Enjoy yourself – be good to yourself – and make sure you take holiday down time. I insist! It will serve you well and make you more productive in the new year.

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