Navigating the turbulence of the December work rush

Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash

One thing I’ve noticed is that lots of people (including myself) have been radiating stress. This is probably caused by the squeeze of work before the year end.

Christmas is usually a busy moment, but tied along with increased workloads and tired souls, I’m noticing an extra level of fatigue. Either that or perhaps it’s just what I’m experiencing for myself anyway.

As both a human being experiencing these things and as a manager, it can be tricky to know what to do, or how to respond. I’ve certainly seen that the usual platitudes are not particularly helpful for people – they haven’t been for me. Usual responses can be easy one-liners such as that it would be a good idea to take more breaks, working less or to simply not stress out. I find these more frustrating than useful.

Whilst there is certainly an underlying truth in these sayings, they are often buried in with a working context where the message is anything but ‘work less’. It’s hard to take seriously a voice which tells us to take a break when it’s the same voice that is telling us to work harder. I’ve certainly experienced this many times in my career, and so it’s one I want to avoid preaching myself.

I think it’s important to accept the realities of our situation. When we take a role, we can find ourselves with rather stretching deadlines. Reminding ourselves that the deadline we face is not the be-all-end-all can be helpful, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem either. Even when we know life won’t end if we don’t do a task, it doesn’t stop it being something we feel like we either want to or should do anyway.

I think we can give ourselves grace to see that these periods are stretching us, and – dare I say it – allow ourselves to feel discontent about it too. We can allow ourselves to feel our feelings without turning into victimhood. After all, Experiencing unpleasant emotions during a time of stress is a perfectly normal reaction.

I’m looking to ride my emotions as well as I can. This week, I had a moment where I just felt very emotionally drained, to the point I needed to just take time to sit in silence during the day. I’m generally pretty on top of my emotions, so the feeling was a little scary if I’m being totally honest.

I’d like to say I’ve gotten pretty good at reading my own emotional signals, so I can react pretty well. But my heart goes out for those who haven’t really tuned into themselves, the blocking of these emotions is why we are seeing so much unhappiness and burn out. The answer to emotions is to experience them, not to ignore them.

So in this December rush, remember that it’s okay to feel. This is a moment where you might be more challenged than in other parts of the year.

Sometimes the best antidote for being stressed is accepting that we are stressed.

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