With Thanksgiving behind us and more holidays straight ahead, it is quite normal this time of year to reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives. At the same time many of us start to feel anxiety set in with the mad rush to the next holiday. Add the stress of what was unquestionably a divisive presidential campaign (no matter where you are on the political spectrum), this may lead to negative thoughts.
Living and working in the D.C. metro area with the news now focusing on debates about the administration transition, I find myself avoiding news channels, social media and conversations with a negative theme and wanting to find a more positive outlet for my own thoughts and actions. I have found I am not alone and offer up some helpful tips to reduce anxiety or stress at this pivotal 2016 holiday season:
Keep yourself busy and find things of interest or maybe something you have wanted to try and was never the right time. Even better, get a friend or buddy to do it with you. Professionally, Stratacomm’s culture supports one going out to learn a new work-related skill to advance one’s career and to take it a step further, we encourage employees to be teachers and help evolve our learning environment. At the end of a long day, find something that gives you a sense of peace and joy personally and professionally.
Exercise and Overall Wellness.
Find a new exercise regime to change up workouts or start with a resolution to do a daily walk before everyone starts in January. In addition, eat healthy, make sure to hydrate throughout the day and get a good night’s sleep. We started a Strat-Active group in the late summer/early fall when it was light out and the weather was perfect. It was amazing that I could have such a different conversation with a colleague when there was a change of scenery and we were getting our endorphins going. Doing it in groups is a big motivator and not only did we get a sweat going on, but we all enjoyed learning something new about one another!
Read or Find Books on Audio.
There are no downsides to reading either via an actual bound book or on audio – learn a new language, learn/research a charity or an organization you are passionate about, improve your imagination and see how much fun it is to get lost in a good book. In 2017, Stratacomm will pick a new book for our start of a book club and we look forward to the selection process, reading, and most of all, the group discussion that spurs ideas.
Get Involved – Volunteer.
People volunteer for various reasons – to gain experience, acquire new skills, to meet new people, to give back to their community, and most of all, to feel good. Get a group of friends or coworkers together to give back in some way. Our D.C. and Detroit offices participate in an annual volunteer event around the holidays. In D.C. we recently worked a shift at the Capital Area Food Bank, and Detroit has volunteered at Forgotten Harvest. In late December some of us are volunteering at Arlington National Cemetery to lay wreaths for the Wreaths Across America Campaign. It puts a smile on my face when I can do something good for someone else.
Reach Out and Be Supportive.
We all have gifts to share and one of them can be listening when a friend or colleague needs it most. One can strengthen connections with others by sending a supportive message, or giving a positive or small gesture expressing you are thinking of someone – sending a card, email or even stopping by for a visit. This can lift you up even more than the recipient.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
EAPs are hidden jewels that many employees are either not aware of or do not take advantage of as a company benefit. They are a voluntary resource that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems. Ask your HR contact on how to reach out and get the help you may need and it is kept confidential.
These are only a few ideas that are helping me as I approach the holiday/election transition season. The end goal is to remain positive and find the good in experiences that bring us purpose and meaning to our lives.
Shannon Hartnett is a partner and vice president of administration and human resources in Stratacomm’s Washington, D.C. office.