The Four Work Stresses of Christmas
It is December 14th, but the plants in my garden would hardly
let you believe it. Geraniums are still in flower, roses are
still blooming and my magnolia tree has yet to lose a single
leaf. London may be basking in peculiarly unseasonal weather,
but Christmas is nearly upon us.
'At Christmas I no more desire a rose Than wish a snow in May's
newfangled mirth; But like of each thing that in season grows.'
> Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), Love's Labour Lost
Christmas - that time of over-indulgence, added anxiety and
sheer stress. Bah, humbug!
Actually, I love Christmas. But the reality for so many people
at work is that hidden beneath the surface of jollity and
bonhomie is that it is potentially the most difficult time of
The four work stresses of Christmas.
1. Christmas has become a giant milestone in the year. This
forces everyone into an artificial mindset that demands that
everything be completed 'before the holiday.' As a result, the
weeks before Christmas are an absolute nightmare for many
people. People who are already overworked are forced to pull
extra hours to get work completed. Yet often, a moments thought
by those demanding the completion of jobs would show that
nothing bad will happen if they are held over until early
If you are a 'holiday hurrier', spare a thought for what is
truly urgent and what is simply being hurried because it is
2. The social whirl. Just because it is Christmas, everybody has
to get on. And on, and on. Festive parties seem to start as soon
as the shops start displaying tinsel - and that can be as early
as September where I live! If you are prone to suffer from
stress - as so many of us are these days - endless eating and
drinking in smokey atmospheres (even if you don't smoke
yourself) is just going to make things worse. Not only are you
lowering your bodies resistance, but you are also severely
limiting your ability to keep on top of the heightened workload.
Don't be a killjoy, but equally, don't party yourself into the
3. 'What-haven't-I-done-itis'. When I worked for advertising
agencies, every Christmas was blighted by worries of what I may
have forgotten, what I may have rushed and done wrong, what
other people may have messed up and so on. It was only in my
last couple of years that I cracked the problem. I made lists.
Big lists. I wrote down everything that needed to be thought
about from December 1st onwards. If I had a newspaper campaign
running I would call every paper to double check the ad
positions. And I would write down the answers. I became
obsessive about detail. And it worked. On Christmas Eve I would
make two copies of all my notes, leave one on my desk and take
the other home, locked in my briefcase. Then, when the demon
thought sprang up during Christmas lunch that I had forgotten
something vital, I knew I had it covered - and had the evidence
to prove it to myself.
Funnily enough, just knowing that it was there made me forget
about it completely and enjoy my holiday.
The moral of the story is - don't plan for Christmas Eve, plan
for the days you will be home worrying.
4. Photocopiers and backsides. It might sound like fun,
especially after a few beers. Don't go there. That glass can
splinter! And even if it doesn't, do you really want the
evidence of a drunken moment to haunt your career for years?
There is always someone who has had a few less drinks than you
who thinks it's amusing to hang on to the evidence.
Have a laugh, but try not to lose all your inhibitions. A broken
photocopier could be the least of your worries!
'Call a truce, then, to our labours let us feast with friends
and neighbours, And be merry as the custom of our caste; For if
"faint and forced the laughter," and if sadness follow after, We
are richer by one mocking Christmas past.'
> Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), author, poet. Christmas in India.
Christmas is a lovely time if worries about work don't poison it
for you. Try to plan ahead and have yourself a very merry
Christmas this year.