During the holidays, many of us will attend celebrations with family and friends or schedule travel or last minute shopping. These festivities, however, can also bring distractions and stress.
According to the American Psychological Association, stress increases as we prepare to meet the “holiday rush.” It’s a common statistic that people preparing for a big event (holiday, vacation, wedding, etc.) are more prone to injury. Why? Because their minds are not focused on the task at hand; instead they are focused on another event. Our attention can be diverted, or we may unintentionally expose ourselves to potential risks on or off the job.
As the year draws to a close, all of us need to take proactive steps to stay focused on our own safety and the safety of colleagues. Despite all the potential distractions, we need to be sure we keep our “head in the game.” We can begin by understanding how stress can distort our perceptions and by taking the following steps to understand and manage our reaction to stress.
- Awareness is the first step in reducing stress. It’s easy to let your mind multi-task while your hands and legs are in “auto pilot” doing the work. But, you must resist the urge to think of other things and instead fully concentrate on the task at hand. No matter the activity, you must focus, be precise in your work, and be aware of your surroundings.
- Recognize when you begin to feel “weighted” or uneasy, and identify the stressors or triggering events. External stress is often caused by something you feel you can’t control, but internal stress is highly manageable. You can control how you react to stress. If you find yourself becoming distracted, stop and reframe your thoughts to focus on the task at hand.
- Be realistic in what you can accomplish during the holidays or any stressful event. Set achievable goals, and then take small, decisive steps toward those goals.
Safety is for all of us – our co-workers, our families and our friends. You can help keep your holiday happy and safe by choosing to manage your stress and to stay mentally focused.
Have a safe and wonderful holiday season.