Holiday Slack Attack

Ah, joy: it's the holidays. Time to gather with far-flung family, renew friendships, exchange gifts and food, and delight small children with thoughtfully chosen toys. A time of magic and wonder.

Or so they say.

The undeniable pleasures of that long stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year's are often accompanied by some less-appealing problems: stress, for one. Extreme busyness. Fear of failure. Overindulgence. Excessive spending. Worry. Sometimes even depression.

The result of any of these is likely to be declining performance at work. From a loss of focus to reduced engagement to missed days, the holiday slump is a real threat to your bottom line. And it couldn't come at a worse time, when year-end financials loom and holiday orders surge.

As a senior executive, your example will resonate through the ranks. Yet you are subject to the same pressures as your employees. How can you stay on track and avoid the holiday slack attack? Here are some strategies.

1. Complain.
No, not to your colleagues or employees -- and definitely not to clients! Complaining brings everybody down. But venting your anger, anxiety or overwhelmed feelings can be therapeutic. Take five minutes each day to write down your complaints.

And if that doesn't work, find a neutral person to complain to -- someone not connected to your business. Maybe you can return the favor. Whine and wine, anybody?

2. Straighten up.
Literally. If you're feeling anxious and overwhelmed, you're likely slumping -- and that only makes you feel worse. Stand up from the desk, plant your feet about a foot apart, pull back your shoulders, and breathe deeply. You might even spread your arms or place your hands behind your head. You'll feel more powerful, and ready to meet the day's challenges. And if you take an upright, open posture out into the world, you will project an optimism and competence that's contagious.

3. Take care of yourself.
You may think that the way to discourage your team from slacking off is to crank up the intensity and work longer hours yourself, but you'll only wear yourself out. Instead, make sure you take adequate breaks, get enough sleep, and eat right. Take a 15-minute vacation and read a magazine or book. And don't forget to exercise. If you don't have time for a walk, get up from the desk and do a few pushups or downward-facing dogs. Your body will thank you, and your performance will improve.

4. Change it up.
It may be counterintuitive, but you can reduce that sense of discouragement by doing something risky or new. Your holiday anxiety will fade into the background as your mind clicks into the possibilities this new challenge presents. Launch a new project. Open a new outlet. Create a new position, and hire a superstar.

Or if you want to go a little less radical, shock your system with a smaller change. Take a daylong digital detox. Try a new restaurant. Turn your desk in a new direction. Try a new hobby. Surprise yourself -- and you just might invigorate others as well.

5. Help someone else.
Whether it's a day out with Meals on Wheels, or an hour spent helping the struggling new guy organize his paperwork, take a break from your own life and give your time to someone in need. It will take you out of yourself, remind you of all the assets you enjoy, and it will set a great example for those around you. Try it today!