Seven Tips to Reduce Holiday (and Year-Round) Stress

The holidays are coming—and is that your blood pressure you see, way up in the stratosphere? Relax, says customer care coach JoAnna Brandi. If you make efforts to reduce stress throughout the year, you’ll not only stay calm at holiday time but contribute to the health of your employees and your business as well.

“If you intentionally set out to feel grateful and happy every day, the benefits will ripple both inward and outward, enhancing your wellbeing and the lives of your co-workers and customers,” says Brandi. “This translates into a healthier and more positive work environment that can lead to increased profits. Why? Evidence abounds that links employee happiness and customer happiness.”

Brandi offers the following seven techniques to develop a practice of gratitude and happiness:

1. Write a letter of gratitude. Identify someone who has made a difference in your life. This could be a mentor, manager, someone in another department, a co-worker from a former job, or a customer. Write that person a letter, specifically thanking them for the way they touched your life. That person may have encouraged you in a career decision, helped you through a difficult time, coached you, taught you new skills, or perhaps seen something in you that no one else did. Send it out or, better yet, deliver it in person and notice how terrific you feel. “This works like magic, creating happiness for you and the recipient,” says Brandi.

2. Create a ‘gratitude’ journal. Write in your personal gratitude journal nightly, and you’ll have sweet dreams. Create a departmental gratitude journal, and you’ll help build a dream team. Keep it in an easily accessible spot in your department, and encourage everyone on your team to write at least one line daily about something for which they’re grateful.

3. Breathe. Stop what you’re doing and breathe deeply. As you do this, think about something you deeply appreciate, or imagine your heart smiling. “Even the busiest person in the world can make time for this powerful mood-altering and stress-relieving exercise,” Brandi asserts. “Most people don’t realize that the mind can’t tell the difference between that which is real and that which is vividly imagined. If you recall a pleasant and calming scene and breathe deeply and fully into it, your body will relax as if you are there.”

4. Change the way you open staff meetings. Before you get down to business, begin every meeting by having each person in the room share something for which they’re grateful. This creates camaraderie and inspires creativity.

5. Send thank-you notes to customers, employees, and suppliers. They should be handwritten and personalized, but do not have to be “perfect.” A simple heartfelt message of thanks goes a long way.

6. Send Thanksgiving gifts instead of traditional holiday presents. With this easy shift of gears, you can really stand out from your competitors.

7. Thank employees on a regular basis. If you’re a manager, make it a point to tell each employees what you’re grateful for. You can focus on a special characteristic you really appreciate—a sense of humor, a can-do attitude—or actions they took that made a difference to the company.

For more information, visit To find out if your customer care is up to par, take Brandi’s quiz at

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