‘Tis the Season for Workplace Stress: How to Effectively Manage the Holidays as an IT Professional
Is the constant stream of holiday music in shopping malls, supermarkets, and elevators making you crazy? Is the mashup of holiday parties and year-end deadlines on top of personal and family obligations giving you hives? You’re not alone.
IT pros generally experience more stress than other employment sectors. A recent study released by Blind, a workplace app for tech employees, found that an astonishing 57 percent are currently suffering from job burnout. The holiday season typically serves to amplify that.
Here are some tips for making the holidays, and your tech career, a little less stressful.
Establish Boundaries and Disconnect
Smartphones, laptops, and social media fuel the pressure many IT professionals feel to be available 24/7. Your boss depends on you to be accessible via email or text over the weekend, your client in another time zone can only Skype in the evening, or your colleagues need you to hop on a few calls over your vacation. While these may seem like situational sacrifices, they tend to mount into regular expectations, and increased stress.
It’s important to set firm boundaries about how you spend your time and energy. Turn off the tech (including those pesky notifications) and let your colleagues know when they can and cannot reach you. Try to develop goals for yourself. Commit to only checking your email once an evening or weekend day, leave your phone in the car when you’re out to dinner or the movies, and utilize apps that help lessen your screen time.
Take Time to Recharge and Resist Over-Scheduling
It’s easy to skip your lunch or other breaks to get projects done, especially with year-end deadlines looming. However, your brain and body need these decompression times to function at full capacity. Take short breaks throughout the day to boost energy, improve work performance, and help reduce anxiety. Consider deep breathing, meditating, reading, or taking a short walk to detach from the office and clear your mind.
A full holiday calendar equals exhaustion. Try to anticipate logistics and associated fatigue before accepting invitations. What seems doable initially may turn into a frustrating obligatory marathon rather than a joyous time. Leave holes in your calendar for rest, quiet evenings at home, or impromptu gatherings. You’ll be glad you did.
Get Organized and Ask for Help
Work-related and holiday stress can be extremely nerve-racking, especially when you’re feeling pressure from all sides to get things done. Staying organized helps. Before leaving work, list the priorities for the next day along with a separate list for personal to-do’s. This technique is particularly helpful to determine what’s truly important and minimize the stress of competing priorities.
Enlist a stress buddy. Talk to a trusted colleague, friend, or family member who will let you blow off steam in private. He or she may help identify new approaches or shortcuts and also offer helpful advice without judging you. These relationships are usually reciprocal, and helping someone think differently about a stressful situation may benefit you as well.
Ask your supervisor for help. If you have too much work to complete before the holidays, your boss might consider solutions such as adjusting deadlines or re-delegating assignments.
Longer term, it’s helpful to have an open conversation with the purpose of devising an effective plan for managing long-term stressors unrelated to the holidays. These may include adopting new skills, learning time management techniques, exploring employer-sponsored wellness or training resources, clarifying goals and expectations, or even making changes to your physical workspace to help reduce strain and enable you to perform your best on the job.
Strength, Not Stress
As you continue through the holiday season, it’s important to consider these tips along with these seven simple steps. They’ll help you sail through the holidays and start the New Year with a healthy outlook. Sleep. Slow down. Exercise. Express gratitude. Be present. Smile, laugh, and lighten up. Get organized. Your boss, co-workers, family, friends, and most of all, you, will be happy you did!
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and stress-free holiday season, from all of us at Benchmark IT.
If you’re struggling to manage stress in your current role and are interested in pursuing a new opportunity, let us help you.