How to Kick Holiday Stress at Work

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The holidays can be a wonderful time of year, filled with family, friends, and celebration. But for most people, holiday joy comes hand-in-hand with holiday stress at work and at home. That’s why it’s important than ever, especially during this time of year, to know your limits at work and take proactive steps to minimize your stress so you can get more joy out of the holidays.

Let’s get started.

Limit Your Notifications

Research shows that just on our smartphones, most people receive an average of 46 push notifications per day. That’s in addition to emails, phone calls, and other daily technology distractions. Most of us see this kind of distraction and multitasking as the cost of doing business in the modern age, but human brains are not wired to truly multitask.


Instead, what we’re doing is frequently switching between tasks, which causes a major drain on productivity. When we stop the project we’re working on to glance at a work email or answer a text message, it can take us about 23 minutes to fully re-engage in our original task.

Even if you can’t fully disengage from your constantly pinging phone or computer, you can set limits for yourself that allow you to be more productive. Take 15 minutes to research how to turn off push notifications on each device you use.

Once you’ve learned how to turn off your notifications, set aside time during your day and turn them off! I recommend starting with at least an hour a day. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish with a little extra time to focus.

Give Yourself Permission to Disconnect

On top of battling digital distraction all day at work, most of us take our work home with us. Surveys show that 80% of Americans work after hours. During the holidays, these after-work hours can take an even bigger toll because you’re probably dealing with additional responsibilities at home, too.

Graphic with text reading "Nobody is going to show up and give you permission to disconnect outside of working hours."

But here’s the thing. Unless you work in a great, supportive work environment (hello, DE!), nobody is going to show up and give you permission to disconnect outside of working hours. And the choice to do so may not be free of consequences, but think of the alternative: Never disconnecting means potentially sacrificing your own health and the health of your relationships.

Plus, on the bright side, giving yourself time to truly disconnect will allow you to work more efficiently and feel better when you are at work.

Get Out of Your Head

All the work and life stressors that come with the holidays can send our brains into a tailspin of overthinking and worry. If you’ve ever tossed and turned thinking about all the projects you need to get done, causing you to miss out on valuable sleep, you know how draining it can be. That’s why doing activities that encourage you to stop thinking and focus on the task at hand can be so rewarding.


If you find yourself feeling especially anxious, try taking a brisk walk, playing a game, reading a book, or doing any other task you find mentally engaging. Once you’re finished, you’ll come back to your work feeling more refreshed and ready to be productive.

Power Through the Difficult Work

We all have work, whether at home or at our jobs, that we’d rather put off but really needs to get done. And when you’re faced with a task like this, it can be hard to just begin. This is one instance where I’d recommend harnessing technology to help you power through less pleasant work. There are lots of methods, but I recommend the Pomodoro Technique.

  1. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  2. Work on the task until the timer rings.
  3. Take a 5-minute break.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 4 times.
  5. Take a 20-30-minute break.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5.

This technique works best for drudgery tasks because it breaks the work up into manageable, 20-minute chunks. Check out this list of apps to help you get started. Or, if you want, you can go old school and set a kitchen timer.

Find Your Happy During the Holidays

Whether you love or hate the holidays, we all feel the pressure this time of year to perform at work, as well as dedicate time to our family and friends. If your lack of work-life balance has left you feeling frazzled, it can drain the holidays of their joy. But limiting notifications; disconnecting; getting out of your head; and powering through the tough stuff can help you feel a little merrier and brighter this holiday season, and that’s something we could all use.

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