December is a hectic time for us all – at a professional and personal level. It is a time where things need to get done “before Christmas”. So, it is worth taking some time out to reflect on some hints for getting yourself through the Christmas period.

Be safe: There is much to do prior to Christmas and with many expectations that you will attend client and customer functions. You will be out of your usual work habits so remember to BE SAFE. There is a tendency to rush to get things done and that’s when accidents happen. Remember to be “present” during this period, drive carefully and follow safe working practices. If you are attending client functions, plan ahead and either limit your alcohol intake to legal levels or don’t drive and arrange a designated driver. If you have attended a function the night before, reflect on whether you are OK to drive the next day (both alcohol level and whether you are refreshed enough to drive).

Remember to get your usual amount of sleep. The early December–Christmas period can be a marathon, so pace yourself and be mindful of the fundamentals – eat well, sleep well and drink your required water levels.

Make lists: Write downwhat must be done, should be done and could be done during this period. The brain loves certainty and these lists provide this. Check these lists (and if necessary, check them twice!) to keep you focused and productive and away from that panic stage where everything must be done by Christmas – does it really? Remember, it’s not so much as whether you actually complete everything on the list, but whether you have a reference point to come back to when or if you get distracted by another activity. Another advantage of making lists is that it gets “stuff” out of your brain, allowing you to enjoy the downtime during the holiday period. Keep the list near you in the early part of the break as you may experience a second level “rush” of activities to be done – this is due to your brain relaxing and some “repressed” ideas will suddenly pop into your head.

2019 starts now: While many of you are in the planning/doing stage for 2019, make sure you have a starting off point on your return from the Christmas Day/Boxing Day/ New Year Day holiday. Don’t waste the New Year experiencing the “where was I” syndrome. Start the New year with momentum, energy and focus.

Take a break: The Christmas/New Year break, regardless of how short it is for you, is at least a break. Use it to refresh yourself. If you possibility can, make rules for yourself to follow and apply. Don’t check emails (leave an out of office message), don’t check work texts or telephone messages (again, change your voicemail message letting people know when you will be returning calls). This is precious time for you to both recharge your batteries and spend time with people who are most precious to you – use this time to connect with them.

Understand the emotions: While the festive season is meant to be a joyous time, remember for many it is a time of personal reflection, loneliness, sadness and even pain from events of the past year. This coming Christmas period may be a series of challenging firsts – the first Christmas without a parent, a partner, a child etc. Anticipate these emotions and reach out to people when you need to. Stay off, or limit, your access to social media avenues. They take away your precious time that would be better invested in more interactive activities as well as avoid the inevitable “happy snaps” of your network.

Merry Christmas to you all and the very best of wishes for the New Year!