No matter what you do, the holidays are hectic—and especially so for busy front office staff handling the inevitable rush that accompanies the season. But even when you feel stretched thin at home and on the job, you can reduce stress and avoid turning into a scrooge. Check out these holiday survival tips for health care administrators and front office staff.
Spread a little holiday cheer.
Administrators, especially, set the tone for the office atmosphere, so take advantage of the season to surprise staff with random gifts or tokens of appreciation. A gift card for a nearby coffee shop or takeout place is always welcome. Consider a daily or weekly contest with more substantial prizes—a morning or afternoon off to go Christmas shopping, for example, if you can make it work, or a salon certificate for a new hairstyle in time for holiday parties.
Don’t forget that a nice surprise in the break room (think fresh donuts, muffins, or bagels) is a great way to spread holiday cheer and revive flagging spirits.
Look for natural ways to reduce office stress.
Did you know that the aroma of fresh citrus reduces stress? Essential oil diffusers, citrus-scented hand soaps and lotions, even a bowl of fresh oranges and grapefruit staff can grab on the go are all ways to bring the calming fragrance into your office and reduce stress naturally. Music is also a well-known stress reducer, so keep some soft holiday music playing—switch off the waiting room TV in favor of soothing seasonal tunes to set a calmer atmosphere.
Find strength in numbers.
Everyone is under extra stress this time of year, so remember you’re all in this together. Look for little ways to enjoy your co-workers’ company throughout the day—if you’re one who normally eats alone at your desk, have lunch with your co-workers and share funny or encouraging anecdotes about your day. Remember that laughter really is the best medicine, so go ahead and giggle about the crazy, absurd, or ridiculous things that happen in the office.
Don’t skip your breaks.
It’s tempting when things get busy to stay at your desk and just grind it out, but breaks are essential to your mental health, especially at this time of year. Take a short walk, close your eyes and listen to music or an audio-book, or even use your time to reflect and plan your personal tasks for the rest of the week. If you tend to get stressed when your schedule feels unmanageable, it’s OK use your break time to create to-do lists, shop a bit online, or whatever else you need to accomplish to help you feel more in control of your life away from the office.
Pay it forward with an unexpected kindness.
Remember that your patients are probably just as unhappy at being in the doctor’s office over the holidays as you are, so look for ways to go above and beyond with a kind word or bit of encouragement. Being kind to others has tremendous mental health benefits, including increasing your feelings of happiness—which makes it easier to be kind, starting a positive feedback loop that pays dividends throughout the office. Of course, the same principle works with co-workers, too!
Savor something about the season every day.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the stresses and busy-ness of the holidays that you forget to enjoy the beauty of this time of year. Take a moment to just savor the smells of Christmas baking, or admire the lights on a beautiful tree. If gift wrapping feels like a chore, reflect instead on what the recipient means to you. Indulge yourself in a seasonal favorite like a peppermint coffee drink or eggnog milkshake. Remember, the holidays only come once a year, so give yourself permission to slow down and appreciate them.
Don’t let the scrooges get you down.
There are always people in your work and home life who won’t enjoy the holidays with you. Some may be impatient, ungrateful, uncooperative, unpleasant—and that won’t change just because the season has changed. Remind yourself it’s not personal when you encounter people who don’t share your holiday spirit, and let go of your unrealistic expectations for how people should behave. Put your energy into those who share your appreciation of this time of year.
The holidays don’t have to get you down if you take time to refresh yourself and know how to stay positive. And remember, the best gift you can give yourself and those around you is a peaceful, cheerful frame of mind.