How to maintain your focus and energy through the holidays.

The holidays are crazy for the average person. But for business owners, leaders, and parents, that schedule is extra packed. In spite of all your roles, and because of them, you deserve to feel relaxed during the moments that matter. So whether it’s your child’s recital or enjoying a holiday dinner together, permitting yourself to enjoy the moment is vital—just not always easy. Here are some tips to help you take a more mindful approach to holiday traditions this year.

Make Plans to Disconnect from Work

As you’re preparing for the holidays, it’s helpful to find ways to put a mental bookmark in your work life.

Wrap up loose ends – Not all projects can be finished, but make it your goal to determine a milestone or pause point before a holiday break. A realistic goal can leave you feeling accomplished and let your mind rest so that the project won’t loom over you during your vacation.

Set boundaries for yourself during your break. Decide on each of these questions ahead of time:

  • Do you want an OOO message to send? 
  • Are you going to check your email and accept calls? How many times each day or during which hours? 
  • Are there any days you do not want to work at all?
  • Will you have your phone on you, or will it be in ‘Do Not Disturb’ during some hours?

If you have someone reliable on your team that will be available, give them a heads up about your work boundaries for vacation. You two might even agree to trade days when each of you will be “on-call” for any issues that flare up.

Plan your return. The first day back in the office can feel overwhelming as you try to get caught up and organized. Block out some meeting-free time on your first morning back just to get caught up and settled. Having this grace period will help you relax over your break and help your first week back not feel like a perpetual game of catch-up.

Lastly, let your family know about your work plans during the holidays. They want to spend time with you, so realistic expectations for when you’ll be free or working will help avoid a great deal of stress. 

Turn Your Mind to Holiday Traditions

Now that you’ve organized your work schedule and expectations for yourself during the holidays, how will you stay mindful when you’re with the family? Here are some ways you can reset and have a mindful approach to holiday traditions.

  • Have self-compassion and let go of some unrealistic expectations. Over-the-top expectations about the meals you’ll make, gifts you’ll give, and the picture-perfect traditions you’ll enjoy set yourself up for disappointment. Don’t invite guilt or shame to your holiday by setting the bar too high.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take some time to breathe and observe those around you. It may feel like we have to be “on” and always performing during the holidays. But in reality, our mindful presence is more than enough for our loved ones.
  • If you’re having trouble getting into the holiday spirit, spend some time looking back at photos from past holidays. Our minds tend to remember the happy moments and let go of the stressful realities of holidays past, so this can be a great way to put a smile on your face and excite you for a holiday ahead. 

Ten-minute Holiday Stress Busters

Here is your opportunity to check in with yourself and evaluate what you can do to feel more mindful and at peace during your holiday. 

Meet your body’s physical needs:

  • Food and Water – Prepare a healthy snack and your water bottle each morning. All salt, sugar, and alcohol at parties can quickly make us feel tired, moody, and rundown.
  • Movement – Bookmark a couple of 10-minute yoga flows on YouTube or save some tension-releasing stretches. Stretching, meditating, and sneaking off for a quick workout can do wonders to restore your balance.
  • Sleep – Spend ten minutes before bed, creating an environment that will help you have a great night’s sleep. Turn down the thermostat, put a glass of water on your nightstand, leave your phone in another room, stretch, etc.

Prioritize the kid’s bedtime routine, even during the holidays. This structure will help them feel less moody and out of control while giving you time to recharge after they go to bed. 

Use breathing exercises. When you focus on your breath, it gives your body the chance to slow down and calm your nervous system so you can be present. 

  • Box Breathing: Take a deep inhale for four counts, hold at the top for four counts, exhale for four counts, and then hold at the bottom for a four-count.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing: Lie back comfortably, with one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Slowly inhale through your nose, paying attention to the pressure under your hands. Focus on using your abdomen to breathe and keeping your chest still. Exhale slowly, using your abdominal muscles only, then repeat.

Unplug, at least a little. It only takes a single text to jerk you out of the holiday spirit and back into an annoying work issue. Be proactive by setting up ‘Do Not Disturb’ when it’s time to rest or enjoy a family activity.

Take a mindful moment for yourself. If it’s the 10 minutes after you put the kids to bed or a moment during the day, take this time to do something you enjoy. Sip a delicious cup of coffee, read a novel, have a sweet treat on the porch, or listen to a podcast. Whatever you do, practice doing only that—not multitasking.

After assessing your workload, validating your needs, and proactively reducing holiday stress, you’re prepared to make memories this holiday season. We wish you an energized, mindful, and peaceful holiday break. You deserve it!