When you work in retail, the holiday season can feel like it has a life of its own. Having extended hours at work, being open for the holidays and receiving limited vacation time can throw a wrench in your celebration plans. But with a little bit of planning and creativity, you can still ensure your holiday season is merry and bright!
1. Get Organized
It may sound odd for the first step toward holiday celebration to include organization. The truth is the more you can prepare for what's coming at work and at home, the more you can level your expectations and avoid unwelcome surprises that thwart your celebratory spirit. Some helpful tips include:
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- Work checklists: Map out what's ahead and how you and your team can get in front of it.
- Gift lists: Family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, clients – our gift lists can get expansive. Write it all down: who you're buying for, what they like and when you can get it to them.
- Crowd control: The pandemic has made us more aware of crowds and health. Make sure your workplace has a plan for keeping guests and employees safe.
- Map your schedule: If you don't use a planner or scheduling app any other time of year, this is the time to start. Sketch out the coming weeks, day by day, to get a handle on what's ahead.
If your workplace doesn't already have mental health resources and support available, encourage them to have these in place before the holiday. These supports are acknowledged to be essential – and will be even more so during the busiest retail months of the year.
Consider also: Apps to Keep Your Schedule
2. Plan Small Celebrations
Rather than put heavy expectations on one or two days during the holiday season, be creative and think flexibly about celebrating. Most retail workplaces are open during the holidays, but it doesn't have to take away from the fun. Plan small celebrations throughout the season when you have time to enjoy them.
If you're scheduled to work long weekend hours, find a free hour or two to do something seasonal and festive. Plan a small something on a weekend night. Find opportunities where you consciously take time out and enjoy the holiday atmosphere without thinking about work or everything you have to do.
Have coffee with a friend, take a stroll in a festively lit downtown or bring holiday treats or small gifts over to a family member's house. Plan small surprises for those you love. Need time alone? Watch a holiday movie curled up on the couch with a hot chocolate. There are dozens of ways you can take time out to ignite the celebratory spirit.
Eat well, sleep well, use a relaxation app, engage in physical activity and feed your emotional well-being by taking time out with family and friends where you can.
3. Get Your Vacation In
In preparation for the holiday season, many retail workplaces blackout vacation dates from October to January. Don't let that limitation stop you from taking the time you need. Get your vacation in early or take your vacation after the holiday. It's important!
Taking time out for a breather before it all begins can make the holiday season at work more bearable. Waiting until after the holidays to rest and recharge isn't a bad idea, either. One way or another, allowing yourself that time away from it all can help you free up the time and mental space to enjoy your celebrations too.
4. Be Flexible in Your Mindset
Holiday stress is real. And when you work in retail, that stress can kick up. Creative thinking and being flexible can go a long way in helping soothe emotional stress. Harvard Business Review suggests that slowing down on multitasking and exploring one particular idea or problem can help us relax and develop creative solutions. If we can reduce stress at work and ease the tension in our bodies, it can go a long way toward helping us enjoy the holiday season and the celebrations that come with it.
Consider also: We Owe Ourselves Better Daydreams
5. Take Time for Self-Care
Perhaps most importantly, when working in retail during the holidays, you need to take time to care for your health: emotionally and physically. Especially now, more than 18 months into the Covid pandemic, the idea of being around crowds, the disruptions to the supply chain and slow workforce recovery have put a strain on retail workers.
It's important to acknowledge this and take time to breathe. Eat well, sleep well, use a relaxation app, engage in physical activity and feed your emotional well-being by taking time out with family and friends where you can.
Consider also: What Is the Best Relaxation App?
Be creative within the tight holiday schedule to claim moments to celebrate the season and embrace time with those you love.
Consider also: Therapy to Fit Your Schedule?
- National Libary of Medicine: COVID-19 and mental health of food retail, food service, and hospitality workers
- Society for Human Resource Management
- Retail Council: Mental Health Resources for Retail Employers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary
- National Retail Federation: Supply Chain Disruptions Hit Main Street
- Psychological Science: Mental Flexibility Can Buffer Against Emotional Stress
- Harvard Business Review: How to Be Creative When You're Feeling Stressed