Boost your health and keep your spirits up this holiday season


Anja van Beek shares ways to renew your energy this holiday season to tackle 2023 head-on

Anja van Beek, agile talent strategist, and leadership and HR expert, says while many South Africans are currently concerned about the energy crisis and the impact of loadshedding on the economy, an even bigger concern is the global trend of exhaustion and low energy levels of the workforce.

“When I speak to leaders and managers, there are a few words that continue to be mentioned in conversations and they are: ‘fatigue, exhaustion, burnout’,” she says.

Anja says it’s not surprising that people are experiencing burnout as they started 2022 in a survival mode as they were still recovering from the challenges and changes the pandemic brought. :We were expected to deliver our best this year, but in fact, many were still recuperating and adjusting to what the new working world will look like,” Anja says.

She points out that burnout is a global concern: a new study by Asana, which looked at over 10,000 knowledge workers across seven countries, found approximately 70 percent of people experienced burnout in the last year.

“Burnout is hard on people, and it also hurts businesses. According to the Asana study, when people experience burnout, they are more likely to have lower morale (36 percent of people), be less engaged (30 percent), make more mistakes (27 percent) and miscommunicate (25 percent). They are also more likely to leave the company (25 percent).”

Another study done by Deloitte, the Workplace Intelligence research, found that 47 percent of employees have quit in the past when a job negatively affected their wellbeing, and 57 percent are considering quitting to find a role that better supports their wellbeing.

To be effective at work, Anja says people must first ensure they have the energy required to make an impact.

Anja shares the following practical ideas to revive one’s spark and energy levels during the holidays:

Get outside

“If you are going away, make the most of the walking trails at your destination. Staying at home? Get your hands dirty and work in your garden,” she says.

Spending time in nature, and getting a good dose of vitamin D can naturally increase these neurotransmitters, Anja says.

Make sleep a priority

Getting enough sleep will, Anja says, help one’s body to function optimally. “Post-holiday-fatigue is a real thing, so let’s make sure you don’t need a holiday after your holiday. Take those afternoon naps.”

Laughter remains the best medicine

“Nothing works faster to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Be intentional about creating opportunities to laugh,” Anja says.

What is your time worth?

Spend time wisely and intentionally. “An easy tool to determine if something is worth the time is this: start with getting a number (rand value) of what an hour of your time is worth. A tip is to make your value comfortably high. Now, you can calculate what scrolling on social media or binge-watching a Netflix series is costing you.”

“You might see that taking care of your health, preparing nutritious meals, giving attention to your spouse or doing things for others, is a better return on your time investment.”

Slower and softer

For some of us the holiday season is chaotic and can be stressful. It is tempting to go all out and a sense of lack of control can feel overwhelming. “We often overlook the importance of getting the basics in place. You can spend hours searching for, making or wrapping presents. Create a few simple holiday rituals for your family. Be present for your loved one over finding perfect things.

“Do you want to reclaim your peace? Consider what the story is that you’re telling yourself about others’ behaviour and think about when you also displayed a similar type of behaviour. This will support you to move from judgement to acting in a more civil way,” Anja advises.

She says the holiday is an ideal opportunity for everyone to rest well so that they are energised to tackle 2023 head-on. “The key is to find what really lights you up. Be deliberate about understanding what creates your flow, such as any activity that causes you to lose track of time. Being in the zone is a biological phenomenon that releases dopamine. I encourage you to permit yourself to take a well-deserved break without interruptions from work.’

According to Anja, this is what everyone needs to do when they are back at work:

Find and create meaning

“Research has shown the power of spending time outside of work to increase satisfaction at work. Ironically, people tend to perceive more joy at work when they are happier in their activities outside of work. What does ‘work’ mean to you? Is it that you can create a quality life so that you and your family can live and experience what life has to offer, or is it ‘live to work’?”

She emphasises that no job is perfect and there will always be aspects of a job that one enjoys more than others, and that's okay. “It’s normal to go through ups and downs in your level of job satisfaction.”

Find a thinking partner or a mentor

“When you feel stuck or when your stress level is increasing, make sure you have a confidant you trust. Sometimes you need a thinking partner that can listen to your side in a non-judgemental manner to provide you the space to be listened to,” Anja says.

Mentorship, she says, can also be a powerful tool to enhance your career growth. Be sure to schedule monthly sessions with your coach or mentor to ensure there is consistency, and follow through on your personal growth action plan.

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