Written by Hanna Jacobsson
As Christmas is fast approaching, we’re busy at work feeling the need to ‘finish everything off’ before festivities begin; and we find ourselves dumping so much into the ‘let’s look at this in the New Year’ pile that we already know we’re going to struggle come 2nd January. That aside, it is well documented that Christmas can also be a stressful time outside of work. So much so that we often actually forget to enjoy it and the whole thing can feel like a burden.
Its’ all about pressure. Pressure that it’s mandatory to have a wonderful time. Pressure to make sure everyone around you has a wonderful time. Pressure to get the perfect gift for that long list of family members. Pressure to have a beautifully decorated house. Often at this time, when you actually need that walk in the park the most and your body is begging you for some TLC at that yoga class, you have no energy to get up in the morning and it all falls down in your priority list. (Another thing to add to the ‘I’ll do that in January’ pressure cooker perhaps?) Even at work, the Christmas party is often hyped up and offers only a very brief time to release some of the stress – only to hit you harder when you are back in the office.
Take a moment to think about your own situation. Do you have enough resilience to handle all the hits you get at this time of year? Are you resilient enough to enjoy this festive season?
Over the last few months we have been working with a number of clients around building resilience to not just cope, but to thrive in the demanding world in which we all live and work. It got me thinking about how important it is to learn how to be resilient outside of work as well, especially at Christmas.
Here are some of our approaches to building resilience, with thoughts around how this can be applied in your personal life over the coming weeks.
- Adopt a team-centric approach
We learnt that building resilience for individual contributors is not enough. We try to take care of our own physical and mental health but often it’s not enough. We suggest to clients that instead we turn our attentions to building resilience in teams.
We are social beings. We need each other and to take care of one another if we are to have any chance of building resilience. Use this time to be open with friends and family about how you’re doing. Talk to them about what’s important for you all to get the right energy supply and explore together how to make that work. We need to help each other be healthy, renew and recover. Perhaps it would help to schedule that walk with a friend, so that you help each other to commit to it if you decide that this is something that gives you energy.
We also know that you need to have a positive inner voice. Be on the look-out for warning signs someone is struggling. Perhaps one of your close ones is using negative language? Help them to be more aware and build a positive focus. It helps to start thinking about what we can control in any given situation. If it is out of your control, let it go. If it is something you can control, think about how you can take ownership to improve. Often it is hard to acknowledge these thought patterns ourselves but easier to notice them in others.
Finally, we need an ambiguity threshold, which is the amount of uncertainty we can handle. That level is different for each of us, and for each of us it fluctuates. Exercise to anticipate the future, accept uncertainty, apply flexibility and be curious.
- Dynamically establish clarity
The world today changes so fast and so do expectations of us. At work we know we need to set clear expectations frequently with our manager. Gone are the days of setting a plan, targets or priorities and working towards them until a review several months later.
How can we apply this approach at home? Again, it comes down to communication. Why not discuss with your family what everyone actually expects for Christmas? It’s a time of tradition. Doing things the way we always have, but perhaps take time to really understand what is important everyone? That way you will get a better understanding of what to prioritise. Perhaps no-one really expects you to bake that cake you slave over every year? Set new expectations when it gets closer, things might have changed.
- Leverage stress
We advise our clients to steer into the root cause of the stressor, acknowledge it and think about a solution to handle it differently next time. When those typical symptoms to stress start, think about what caused them in the first place. When you are more aware of what’s going on, discuss with a family member or friend to come up with ideas as to how you can deal with it differently.
Above all – build trust. Be authentic and show vulnerability. It is okay not to be the best child, host the best party, or be perfect at Christmas time. By expressing your mistakes or just sharing that you actually are stressed, I am sure people will admit around you that they are feeling the same. That builds a better understanding for each other and strengthen our trust in each other.
Enjoy your Christmas holidays!