How to not let work take over your Christmas

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We won’t keep going on about it, but 2020 has been a tough one!
For some people, work was constant and even got busier during the lockdown. For others, they faced job cuts or unemployment and may have started a new role this year.
Whatever your situation, it is likely that you didn’t have a normal “break” or holiday time during the restrictions. Many people even had extra holiday days left at the end of the year because they didn’t get the opportunity to take them.

So the key message I have for everyone who can this Christmas is to focus on REST.

No matter who you are or what your situation is, we cannot underestimate the importance of rest and allowing your body and mind to recover.

And one really important aspect of this is the impact of work on your rest time. And since we have been “living at work” for so much of 2020, we need to make a concerted effort to incorporate this rest into Christmas.

  1. Plan your off time, and use the tools at your disposal to support you
    From working with many organisations, I know that one of the biggest temptations during downtime from work is email. What might start off as an innocent 5 minute “I’ll just check my email to see if anything important has come in” can turn into a 2 hour work stint that could have waited until you were officially back at work.
    • I strongly suggest taking work email off your phone. Or if you have a separate work and personal phone, put your workphone as you would your laptop/computer.
    • Use your out of office reply and also maintain your calendar (in Outlook, Google etc.) People can then check your availability
    • Be extremely clear with your out of office – if you know there could be potentially urgent issues, have a number that someone can contact you on rather than compulsively checking email.
    • Use tech to auto-delete emails during your off time – extreme, but could work for your situation
  2. Have separation from Work and Life
    • If you work from home with a computer, either lock the office door or put your work equipment away out of sight for the duration.
      The fewer obstacles you have to “just checking” your work, the more likely you are to get sucked in. So put that physical distance there – out of sight, out of mind!
  3. Get outside every day if you can
    • A big risk from this year is overwork or burnout. Studies show the positive impact that physical activity can have on combatting potential burnout.
    • Get into nature if you can – woods, lake, sea, fields… Exposure to nature also has physiological effects on our overall wellbeing.
  4. Rest and recover
    • The ability to rest and recover is often what helps elite athletes to achieve high performance. It is one of the elements to our overall wellbeing that can often be overlooked, or deprioritised.
    • Rest does not mean sleep or sitting down. It can be active such as walking, it can be doing something creative, it can be chatting and laughing with family, it can be cooking… Think about what you do in your day-to-day job and how you can combat the stress from that.

Example:

If you sit at a desk all day looking at a computer, then sitting and looking at a screen during your downtime won’t allow the areas that need to rest, rest appropriately (your eyes, your mind, your glutes…). In this case, rest can be active.

If you work on the frontline and you are on your feet all day, then physically exerting yourself will not give you rest. You might take time to do some colouring with the kids, or do a (God forbid!) Zoom quiz with friends.
Find what works for you.

Have a happy, healthy and safe Christmas and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

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