Written by Meghan Kennelly on Nov 28, 2016

‘Tis the Season for Stress – Tips for Balance this Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us, along with  the parties, shopping, family responsibilities and everything else that can raise our stress levels. Balancing it all can put a lot on our shoulders and sometimes gets in the way of us taking the time to celebrate, enjoy and relax.

I reached out to a few of the coaches who partner with CIO Executive Council on the Accelerated Leadership program to ask for some advice. Take a look at their suggestions to see where you might make some adjustments to truly enjoy this special season. I also suggest sharing these tips with your team so together you can work towards having a stress-free end of the year and gear up towards a great 2017!


Joel Dobbs
CIO Executive Council Coach & Mentor
President and CEO, The Compass Talent Management Group LLC & Executive in Residence, University of AL Birmingham

  • Try not to be too overwhelmed by all of the things you need to do this season, which ultimately raise your stress level.
  • Be intentional about what you don’t need to do.  You can’t attend every event, you can’t be in two places at once, and you can’t please everyone.  Don’t even try.
  • Focus on doing what is most important with the people who are most important to you.  As a wise mentor once told me, “Give your best to the people who will cry at your funeral.”
  • Find time to give back.  Do something for someone who can never repay you.  The holidays offer plenty of opportunities.  Over the course of my life one of the most valuable lessons I have learned is that in the end, you only keep what you have given away.  Think about that.

Mary Patry
CIO Executive Council Coach & Mentor
IT Executive Coach & Advisor, ITeffectivity

  • Concentrate on spending more time with family and friends and less time on the material aspects of the holidays, ranging from gift shopping to achieving the perfect holiday décor.
  • Don’t take a holiday from exercise and meditation. They are the best source of endorphins and stress relief.
  • Pay attention to the effect certain foods and beverages have on your stress level.   Your diet and nutrition choices can make your stress levels go up or down.
  • Reflect on yesterday if you wake up feeling less than yourself today.
  • Don’t hesitate to say No to house guests over the holiday, unless they are immediate family. Even then, limit how long they stay. Conversely, apply the same rule to yourself.

Rari Hilditch
CIO Executive Council Leadership & Executive Coach
Director of Talent & Leadership Development, CIO Executive Council

  • Keep a master task. It will keep everything in one place and support eliminated worry about what needs to get done.  Frequently review the list, and delete and delegate as needed.
  • Temporarily eliminate the unnecessary. With a full time job and busy life outside of work it’s easy to become overwhelmed by everything coming at you.  Consider taking a temporary break from things like social media, newsletters, etc. They’ll still be there after the holidays.
  • Be proactive and realistic. Get ahead of the frenzy and think about the key items that need to be completed in the next few weeks.  Proactively communicate expectations to your team – and be realistic.  Are there company parties, team volunteer days, vacation time, and so on?  Remember, chances are if you’re feeling stressed or hectic with much to do so are they.  What REALLY needs to happen?  Is there anything that can wait for January?

Bob Kantor
CIO Executive Council Coach & Mentor
IT Management Consultant & Executive Coach, Kantor Consulting Group, Inc.

  • Stress is an inside-out job. It’s not what’s out there that causes us to feel stressed… it’s the stories we tell ourselves about what’s out there. If you’re feeling stressed, choose a better story.
  • Stress is just a feeling in our bodies… it’s not a real thing. Observe that feeling in your body and it will become weaker and weaker, and probably go away.
  • Empower your “Yes” by using your “No.” You don’t have to do much of what you are doing. Choose to say “No” much more often, and see how much more rewarding and less stressful your “Yeses” become.


We will be featuring the topic of stress on an upcoming webinar for our Accelerated Leadership participants – for more information on the Accelerated Leadership Program and how you can join, click here.

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