With end-of-year projects, holiday shopping, and more calories than you care to count, your sense of work-life balance may be more out of whack than ever.

According to an October 2014 Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll, a whopping third of participants said they expected to be working this Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day. But it’s not just confined to the holidays. More than half (56%) said they regularly or occasionally worked after office hours. And 49% checked in with work during their last vacation.

Is it time for us to reframe – or perhaps abandon – the idea of work-life balance as neat little components that fit together as neatly as Legos? Can any of us actually achieve a lifestyle where work, family, and community commitments are honored?

Maybe…and maybe not. As I told US News & World Report, “What makes the concept of work-life balance seem so unattainable is that many people assume that all aspects of work and life should be given equal weight at the same time. Not only is that wildly unrealistic, it’s downright exhausting.”

So why not make this holiday a little less manic and a little more manageable? Here are some ideas for you:

  • Make decisions and set expectations early.  Let your boss and co-workers know your holiday plans early enough that everyone can make the necessary adjustments. Even if you can pull rank, remember that it’s a team effort – especially during the holidaze. Decide beforehand, not in the moment, how much time you want to devote to holiday gatherings and how you’ll gracefully extricate yourself from functions when it’s time to leave.
  • Set aside time for yourself.  Even if you’re surrounded with friends, colleagues and relatives, make sure you get some alone time each day. Go for a walk, take a drive, or find a quiet spot to read a book.  If you need an excuse, blame your solitary activity on your work, your new fitness program, or even a few last-minute errands that get you out the door for some solo time.
  • Reach out and help someone.  It really is true that helping other people can get your mind off your own worries. If you’ve never volunteered during the holidays, this is an ideal time to help out at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter in your community. Even gathering up blankets, canned goods, or cold weather gear and donating them to a place of worship or community center that will get them to those in need can be a huge help. And make you feel great in the process.

Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season and a wonderful New Year! Love, Libby