5 Ways to Balance Work/Life During the Holiday Season


The perfect guide to celebrate, not stress, the most wonderful time of year.: Photo Credit: PeoplesImage/iStock/Getty Images Plus collection/Getty Images

Don’t let the holidays make you holi-crazed.

When you face work deadlines, family pressures, presents to buy and parties to plan and attend, it can feel like there’s too much to do and no way to get it all done. But it’s possible to have a holiday season that leaves you feeling healthy, happy and grateful, rather than tired, stressed and overwhelmed:

1. Set Your Priorities

The holiday season can pull you in many directions. Identify what you care most about and what you can skip. “You cannot participate in everything. We indirectly put more pressure on ourselves” when we try to do otherwise, says Jenn Watterman Moore, a small business consultant and CEO of In Purpose On Purpose.

Similarly, make sure the work-life balance is truly balanced. “Often times, we tend to provide more time to work than our families,” Moore says. “It’s important that your family doesn’t feel neglected.”

At work, decide what must get done now and what can wait. “Can you set aside some of the less urgent work until after the holidays, and plan to be more present at key times,” asks Michelle Cederberg, a speaker, coach and consultant and author of Energy Now! Small Steps to an Energetic Life. “Sometimes we create an unnecessary sense of urgency with our work, when really, much of it could wait a day or two so you can enjoy holiday time with loved ones.”

2. Know Yourself

Some people can send out hundreds of holiday cards and bake dozens of cookies for an office party. Others post a festive greeting on social media and tote a bottle of wine to every gathering. Determine what works best for you and don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

“If you want to be merry, be realistic about what balance means in your life and what choices you need to make to achieve it,” says Maura Thomas, founder of RegainYourTime and author of Work Without Walls: An Executive’s Guide to Attention Management, Productivity, and the Future of Work.

3. Meet Work Goals, Then Enjoy

Be realistic about work tasks around the busy season. “The key to balance isn’t necessarily some specific split between work and play,” says Thomas. “It’s about coming out of denial about whether the schedule you’ve chosen for yourself is working. Do you feel balanced or do you feel stressed out?” she notes.

Similarly, allow yourself to stop working to fully enjoy the season. “Balance your time through proper scheduling,” says Joanna Douglas, owner of Clean Affinity Cleaning Service in Portland, Oregon. “During the holidays, I’ll make sure that I get everything done before I go home, so when I get home, I spend time with my family. This makes it so much easier for me to adjust when I get back to work.”

4. Stay Committed to Your Health

Modify your healthy lifestyle goals to fit the season. For example, you might not maintain a weight loss, but you can try to minimize gain. “Chances are you’ll find yourself in front of multiple buffets this holiday season, but portion control is paramount through the holidays,” says Marcello Pedalino, a fitness trainer and speaker and the author of Celebrate Life.

To manage your appetite, drink water and eat salad first, enjoying the company around you and consuming food slowly. Try a portion of protein and vegetables and ask yourself if you are even hungry for dessert. “Moderation is key,” he says. “If your regular daily nutrition is on point, a few desserts over the holidays won’t hurt.”

5. Sustain Your Mind, Body While Traveling

Staying with family might increase your holiday stress, and work travel during the holiday season might be taxing. Ease the experience with the wellness amenities available at EVEN Hotels. With bamboo sheets, in-room yoga mats, the Athletic Studio gym and the Cork & Kale Market & Bar, the hotel offers elements that make it easier to maintain your health goals on the road.

6. Find Your Zen

Stay calm and collected by trying some natural stress relief methods. These can include simple meditation — sitting by yourself, putting in your earbuds and listening to music you find soothing or just letting your mind focus on a calming phrase, such as “I feel at peace.” Or simply take a walk outside, especially in nature — another proven way to reduce your stress.

About the Author

Cheryl Alkon Cheryl Alkon is a Massachusetts-based writer, researcher and editor, and the author of Balancing Pregnancy With Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby. Find her on Twitter at @Lyrehca.