The 4th Quarter and How to Deal with Stress

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November is a great time to be discussing the topic of stress.  Let’s face it, once Thanksgiving week hits, most of us are in stress-mode until the end of the year.  There would be nothing to talk about if we managed our stress well.  However, many of us, especially in the 4th quarter of the year, haven’t a clue how to deal with stress in the workplace or elsewhere, and, frankly, let stress overtake us.  This blog post, and the two which follow, will review some of the causes of our stress and how best to remedy the tension and hassles created in the 4th quarter of our lives (as well as throughout the year).

So what is it about November and December that increases our anxiety levels and shortens our fuses?  Maybe it’s all the effort that goes into preparing for the Thanksgiving gathering; the big meal needs to be perfect, and the crowd needs to fully enjoy the food and activities of the day.  And, then again, it might just be the people who are in our lives who weigh down our ability to deal suitably with stress.  Perhaps job demands are more intense, if, for example, your organization has a calendar year end–so much to do to hit goals and complete projects with so little time left before 12/31.

If you look closely at my suggested hypotheses, there’s a common missing piece–YOU.  There’s an awful lot of focus on others, ensuring their goodwill and happiness.   Where are YOU in that process?  Think about what you do when the pressure is on and there’s so much to do.  What are some of the first things you stop doing when you have more to do in a given period of time, like the 4th quarter of every year?  If you’re like most, you stop or reduce the amount of exercising you’re doing.  Why?  Because you have too much to do – shopping, cooking, wrapping, getting cards in the mail, cleaning,…and the list goes on.  You likely also stop eating well; after all, you’re on the run, so instead of making smart and healthy food choices, you eat things like fast food, candy bars, anything easy to grab, while you’re on the go.  Your patience level and the quality of time you spend with others as you prepare for the holidays goes way down; you have so much going on that there’s no time to waste.  People get in your way on the road, in the stores, and at home.  If they would just leave you alone and let you get everything done, you’d deal with stress just fine!

Really?  I think not.

What are you doing for YOU during all of this hustle and bustle?  I know, you’re just being selfless as you try desperately to make everyone else’s Thanksgiving, Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza, and New Years Eve the best they can be.  But is selfless, the best way to go, to manage your stress?

During the 4th quarter of each year, and during other times of intense stress, a key reason your stress becomes unmanageable is specifically because of your selflessness.  You have lost yourself in the process of putting everyone and everything else before you.  Where is the energy that you need to take care of you?  Where is the time allotted to do things which you love and need to do for yourself?  It’s gone; you’ve spent it all; there is nothing left for you.

To better manage your stress this 4th quarter, please carve out a bit of time every single day to do something you love.  It doesn’t require large blocks of time; brief periods work just as well.  Talk to a cherished friend or relative, meditate, eat a healthy meal, go for a run, laugh out loud – you decide what you need. This is time for you to take care of you, put yourself first for a few moments, so that you can recharge your batteries and continue on with all you need to do before 12/31 hits.  Putting yourself first is a helpful way to deal with stress.

For more information, please view my How to Deal with Stress in the Workplace episode on ToledoBizConnectTV.

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