The hustle and bustle of the holidays is upon us and increasing stress can build quickly, both at work and at home. Project deadlines, unresolved conflict at work, holiday travels, an unexpected visit from Cousin Eddie, or missing those who cannot be with us cause increased amounts of stress. In fact, statistics show this time of year is accompanied by increased stress for nearly 50% of us. How do we cope with all these variables and still put our best foot forward at the office and at home? 

If you’re a big picture person like me, I tend to rise to the occasion at the office with no clear plan and fight through the friction of it all just to get a result – which, if I’m being honest, can sometimes include consuming relationships and disregarding others’ feelings all the way through. Surprisingly, this doesn’t go over so well. Or you may be a details person who gets overwhelmed and exhausted before the end of the meeting when a big change is announced. Change means work, and time, and details, and the list goes on until stress bears down to immobilize us.   

When it comes to stress, there is a trigger for our body to kick into “fight or flight” mode. Identifying the trigger is critical to harnessing the good aspects of stress which can lead to increased productivity. If we miss the trigger, the negative aspects of stress can force us into hyperactivity or depressing inactivity. Knowing your strengths and vulnerabilities is essential to harnessing the power of stress. 

For big picture folks, when the stress hits and the trigger to speed into overdrive occurs, slow down and jot out a measurable action plan. If you’re a details person, write down the “big idea” and break it down into bite-sized chunks where you can add all the details you like. No matter which category you fall into, you must turn unconscious, negative tendencies into active positive choices to combat the negative aspects of stress.

It’s amazing when we can both relationally produce for those we love most while meeting deadlines at work during the holiday season. It takes practice and coaching, but all of us can get there.  If you have personal methods of increasing productivity while under stress, please share – you may give another leader an effective technique or trigger a healthy habit to harness the positive aspects of stress.