It’s the most wonderful time of the year … or is it? Even in stable times, the end of the year is extra stressful with both work and life. Employees are simultaneously planning for various holiday celebrations, while also working diligently to hit year-end numbers. Being mindful about practicing self-care can help you reduce stress and get ready for the future.
Use self-care to reduce the stress
1. Focus on your health
There are several steps you can take to improve your health. First, schedule that annual checkup with your doctor. Today, many providers are offering telehealth visits you can do from home. This will give you peace of mind as you head into the new year or arm you with the information you need to deal with a current health issue. Second, evaluate your diet. Ensure you’re eating healthy a majority of the time, with opportunities to have some holiday treats added in. Third, you may not be exercising enough. If you’re not, add in 20-30 minutes a day of any activity that gets your heart rate up a bit. In the end, it will energize your metabolism and your mind.
2. Prioritize and purge
Is your inbox always full? If so, now is the month to prioritize and only work on what is critical this month. First, eliminate all the requests you have that are not aligned with your work goals. Purge them immediately. For the remaining emails, send a reply saying you’ll add it to your 2023 calendar. By setting a boundary now, you’ll be able to avoid overload at work.
3. Take a retreat
A retreat will rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. When you take a retreat, you gift yourself time to think. You can meditate, write or any other activity to clear your head. Be creative and find ways to get away in nature for short bits of time to rejuvenate. Give yourself a hiking goal each week and find a local park to achieve it. Tell your family you need an hour a day of alone time and go into a room, put on noise-canceling headphones, and escape with your favorite podcast or book.
4. Limit negative intake
A recent American Psychological Association study found that 95% of Americans follow the news regularly, yet 56% of them say that doing so causes increased stress. Politics is not the only topic that can cause stress levels to skyrocket, and the current political climate has been more stressful than usual. When you layer in COVID-19 infection rates, crime, business news and even entertainment news, you can quickly be overwhelmed with negative information. Be sure to step away and seek positive stories to balance out the information you choose to consume.
5. Create boundaries
Whether it’s over the internet or in person, YOU have the choice to limit and create boundaries. If the negative intake comes from only a few sources, cut those off. If it’s social media, temporarily uninstall the apps on your phone and take a social media break. This may sound like basic advice, but you’d be surprised how many people complain about it and never delete the apps. If there are only specific people contributing to the negative flow of information, limit their ability to do this by disconnecting or unfriending them. Boundaries are there to help make you more comfortable and to protect yourself.
6. Open up to your boss
Eight in 10 workers say shame and stigma prevent them from seeking mental health care, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. But now, more than ever, bosses understand the stress we are all experiencing. Be honest and upfront about your feelings. Come prepared to tell your manager how you’re feeling, what is causing that feeling, and the impact on your health. Then, propose ways to alleviate the stressors. If you come with suggestions, it makes it easier for the manager to agree to the proposed changes instead of having to come up with a solution for you.
Bonus Tech Tip
Many of the suggestions for self-care can be supplemented with technology. Whether through the Limeade platform, or through various individual apps that support time management, meditation, health tracking and financial well-being, technology can enable transformation.
Finishing the year strong is the best response when it comes to stress. Taking time to look within, define your needs, then meeting them will empower you as you look ahead. Now is the time to embrace self-care and rejuvenate.
Congratulations to the State of Washington and the HCA team on this amazing recognition, and we thank you for your partnership since 2014.
About the author
Trish McFarlane is the CEO and Principal Analyst for H3 HR Advisors, is co-host of The HR Happy Hour podcast network alongside Steve Boese, and is also the creator of the HR Happy Hour WORK BREAK! daily vlog.