Mills: Pacing ourselves for the December rush

The pace can get frantic, depending on how many work-related parties you need to attend and how many social gatherings you want to attend.

For many people, December is one of the busiest months of the year.

It is a time when work may bring more year end operational demands but it is also when socializing —voluntary or otherwise—picks up significantly.

It seems that the festivities start as soon as the calendar page turns to December. And the pace can get frantic, depending on how many work-related holiday parties you feel you need to attend and how many social gatherings you want to attend.

Professional networking this time of year can offer a welcome break from our regular routines and a chance to see colleagues in a more relaxed setting.

However, not all work-related holiday parties are fun. Some are simply social obligations that we honour in order to stay connected, or reconnect, with people in our professional circles.

In either case, we still need to be “on” in these situations, so there can be extra strain on our physical and mental energies.

It isn’t just the increased volume of social activity that can wear us down it is also the change in eating—and drinking—patterns that can take a toll.

Perhaps someone at your workplace likes to bake. This is the time of year when all the special holiday treats are brought in for everyone to enjoy, day after day it seems.

If you are not used to eating that much sugar you may find it difficult to keep your mental energy on an even keel.

It is the same for increased alcohol intake this time of year. For those who abstain, it’s obviously not an issue.

For those who do not, it can be a real challenge to pace oneself in social settings. There are so many reasons why it is important to self manage one’s intake.  Drinking and driving is clearly a no-no.

And it is a well known fact that significant alcohol consumption is harmful.

These predictable changes in behaviour patterns at this time of year raise some interesting questions. Everyone is different, of course, but really how much is too much for you? What is your threshold?

And, how can you create a healthier strategy for managing the extra strain on your system that the holiday season demands?

I’d like to offer three simple tips that have stood the test of time and common sense.

First, plan ahead. Consider what your social calendar could be like for the month and then decide what you want it to be like.

Create a schedule that gives you a balance of work and play and also allows for down time. In fact, why not reserve time for doing absolutely nothing?

Second, stick to a regular meal plan and eat your veggies. Try your best to eat healthy food as often as you can and avoid snacking on sweets or using party appetizers as your main meal in the evening.

Third, wind down early and get a good night’s sleep. Not only do you want to be alert for all the fun events, but you still have work that needs to get done.

It doesn’t matter how high your regular energy level is, every body needs time to rest and re-charge.

Whether you enthusiastically participate or actively try to avoid it, the social scene changes in December and it will affect you one way or another.

Here is your opportunity to be proactive, take control and ready yourself—mentally and physically—to socialize at a pace that works for you.

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