Holiday Stress Part 1: Werk, Werk, Werk

As I find myself winding down two jobs, social commitments and managing a household mould problem – I am feeling the brunt of ‘holiday stress’.

‘Holiday stress’ is as it sounds, quite literally, stress as a result of an upcoming holiday.

I am wrapping up projects, reports and trying to ensure I do ALL the things to keep everyone happy. Why? Because, similar to the end of a school term, the end and beginning of a new year – there is a mentality that ‘all things should be finished’ and ‘wrapped up’ before going on annual leave or a holiday. This is tough (and a first world problem) because sometimes these expectations are unrealistic, and there is ALWAYS more work to be done. How long is a piece of string?

Then, those worry thoughts creep in when you think you have mastered your list of tasks before finishing up in the office. Like, ‘you forgot something’, ‘you didn’t finish all your work’, ‘you’ve left your workmates in the lurch by not doing enough before leaving them’. How awful! The human brain is a complex organ of insecurities, fears and sometimes, unrealistic expectations. This is very unhelpful, stress-inducing and defeats the purpose of going on leave/away if we stress ourselves out by attempting to take a holiday!

Using cognitive behavioural principles (a la CBT) and positive psychology we can let go of these unhelpful thoughts and expectations. The reality is, your job and work will be fine and your colleagues will survive. But how do we really manage pre-holiday stress and anxiety?

  • Be proactive. Set realistic work-goals for the month (or even earlier) in the lead up to going away. Break them down into SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely).
  • Self-monitor your smart goals. E.g. tick them off on your task list or calendar.
  • Acknowledge unhelpful thoughts and unrealistic expectations. Then, do what you humanly can and let those thoughts go.
  • Remember that you will be coming back to your job (unless you win the lottery while on holiday or decide to quit your job and never return) and you will continue working on all those dreaded tasks you didn’t finish…
  • Delegate. Let’s be real: we can’t do everything. If possible, share the load and hand-over/communicate with your colleagues if projects need to be monitored or follow-up is required.
  • Let your colleagues know you are winding down. Do not overcommit yourself - try not to pick up extra work or begin new projects and be realistic about what you can achieve before you go away.
  • Book some self-care into your calendar. Do what works for you. (More about this next week!).
  • Finally, turn that out-of-office on. If you’re like me and work for yourself, (this especially applies to those who are self-employed/business owners) - make it be known that you will not check your email for the duration of the holiday period. And stick to this. A proper work-free break is important – and the point of going on holiday/annual leave.

Stay tuned for my next post on self-care and managing holiday stress and anxiety before going on that big trip!

-The HP

Read more about holiday stress: