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Dealing with Workplace Stress at Holiday Time Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit

Mark Swartz
Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dear Mark: Who said that late December is a time to relax? I dont know about you, but for me theres so much happening this time of year its hard to keep up. On top of work Im running around planning for the holidays, buying presents, attending parties, getting in touch with my family, etc. I hate to admit it but its actually stressing me out to the max. Any advice?

-- Peter T., Churchill, Manitoba
Dear Peter,

It's true that year end can be a demanding time. You not only have to keep up your performance at work, but also juggle expectations and demands of family and friends. Plus there's the financial pressure that gift giving or vacations away can add.

And let's be real: overeating and over-indulging in alcohol can leave us feeling lethargic the day after just when you may need to be sharp.

Fortunately there are ways to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by it all.
a) Getting Organized.

Rather than flying into a random frenzy of activity, try to take some time early in the morning or later in the evening, when things are quieter, to plan your activities into manageable chunks of time.
b) Setting Your Priorities at Work Have a talk with your supervisor about which of his or her priorities must be handled before you head out for your days off. Then put the lesser stuff on hold for the time being. If you try to do it all you may just burn yourself out.
c) Knowing Your Limits Consider restricting your partying to nights before the workdays you know will be less demanding. And let your friends and family know if your work obligations have to come before celebrating. They probably have similar obligations.
d) Being Aware of Your Stress Signs Are you a little quicker to anger than usual? Is there more tightness between your shoulder blades? Noticing you're a little short of breath, or having a restless sleep? If you know your own symptoms of being stressed out you can use these as warning signals to give yourself a bit of a break.

Also keep in mind that others around you may be strained as well. With all these trigger points lowered the chances for blow-ups increase. Finally, if you really do feel overburdened and the place you work for has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), you can contact them for help. Or else speak to someone you trust about what you're going through. You might be surprised to find how many people are affected by the pressure to be in a festive mood while staying productive.

Keep in mind the seasonal crunch will soon be over and then we're into a whole new year. In the meantime happy holidays to one and all!

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