As the end of the year marches ever closer, the ‘to-do’ list can feel like it is bursting at the seams! End of year work deadlines, Christmas shopping and celebrations to somehow find time to think about and, if you have kids, there are the endless year-end school activities to juggle.
With the craziness that 2020 has been so far with lockdowns, work changes, job losses, financial pressures and general stress, this already challenging time of year has left many of us feeling like we are about to pop!
Here are five ways to help manage end-of-year overwhelm:
1 Keep to a consistent bedtime
As tempting as it can be to stay up late to ‘get things done’, burning the candle at both ends really doesn’t help. Sleep is like gold and as well as making you feel better, it will help with your productivity. Sleep is the time when your brain transfers short-term memory into long-term memory, forms new neural connections and assists with your problem solving.
You will find it much easier to fall asleep if you go to bed at a consistent time and keep your body in the rhythm that it likes. As much as we try, we really can’t cheat what our body needs, but if you look after your body, it will look after you. For more on body rhythms check this out.
2 Focus on what is working
Our brains have a negative bias. This was a helpful evolutionary trait back in the day when we had to figure out whether to focus our attention on the threat of an approaching tiger, rather than getting caught up in the beauty of the flowers.
Luckily, nowadays we don’t often have tigers hanging around our desks at work. But we do have endless problems that can feel like emergencies to our brains: Inbox overflowing and feeling like you are forever behind? Your garden being overtaken by weeds or house a mess?
But what is working? Did you get your bus on time today? Did a meeting go well? How about a coffee you bought for a friend who was really grateful? Practise noticing what is going right and see how different you feel.
3 Take microbreaks
There is so much information our brains have to deal with in a day, it is no wonder we feel overwhelmed. We need to give our brains space and time to catch up and process all the incoming data.
Driving in the car? Leave the radio off and just enjoy the peace and quiet rather than adding more noise. Standing at the bus stop, in a lift or in a queue? Leave your phone in your pocket. The world can wait. Those emails, Facebook chats and news feeds that are filling your brain with more information need to wait. You need space to process.
If you aren’t yet practising mindfulness techniques, then now is a great time to start. It is a game changer. More on that here.
As well as microbreaks, if you work, don’t forgot to put your leave forms in and book a proper break. We need holidays or breaks from work to help us recharge and be more productive. You aren’t helping yourself or your business by soldiering on.
4 Get comfortable saying ‘no thanks’
At this time of year, the social catch-ups (be it on or offline these days) can come flooding in. Or maybe you have lots of people asking for your help with things that you don’t have the headspace for.
As hard as it can feel, it really is ok to say no thanks. We need to look after ourselves first if we will ever be able to be our best for other people.
5 Make Christmas prep easier
Figuring out the Christmas gift list can be another added stress, but we have you covered. Here’s a list of gift ideas with a healthy twist.
Article sources and references
- Negative Bias: Vaish, A., Grossmann, T., & Woodward, A. (2008). Not all emotions are created equal: the negativity bias in social-emotional development. Psychological Bulletin, 134(3), 383.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652533/
- Andrea N. Goldstein and Matthew P. Walker. The Role of Sleep in Emotional Brain Function. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2014; 10: 679–708. Published online 2014 Jan 31. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032813-153716https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286245/
- Joudrey, A.D. & Wallace, J.E. (2009). Leisure as a coping resource: A test of the job demand-control-support model. Human Relations, 62, 195-217.https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2009-02960-002
- Lehto, X. Y., Choi, S., Lin, Y., & MacDermid, S.M. (2009). Vacation and family functioning. Annals of Tourism Research, 36, 459-479.https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2009-10716-005