Imagine a holiday without work. No pressing projects burdening you, time spent with family and friends is fulfilling, and the holiday spirit brings peace to your soul. This doesn’t have to stay the stuff of daydreams.

Many people struggle to compartmentalize, especially during a global pandemic where the majority of work is taking place at home. Constantly having work on the mind is not good for your mental health. Added stress causes health problems, increased relational tensions, and can take the fun and restoration out of the holiday season. Not only for these reasons is finding a comfortable harmony between your work world and personal life necessary, but for the reason that it reminds you what’s important.

Mentally balancing work and the holidays is no simple task, instead requiring consistent mental checks and balances to ensure you protect yourself and your productivity. To help you clock out on work and clock into the holidays, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Tip #1: Create Physical and Mental Boundaries Between Work and Play

Whether it’s an extra bedroom or a certain desk in your kitchen, it’s important to have one spot in the house that is dedicated to the professional. For remote workers, closing the door or putting away the computer can be the difference between being on or off the clock. By designating a certain part in the house for work or leisure time you begin to associate those physical spaces with the correlating mental spaces, allowing your mind the ability to relax or to get in the workplace mindset. In addition to physical spaces around the house, be sure to set specific times for work and for non-work-related things. After your specific work time is over, take time to do something relaxing or fun that will rejuvenate you after a day’s work.

Tip #2: Tie Up Loose Ends and Say No

Loose ends are never fun to think about, and even less fun to think about during a holiday dinner with family and friends. Finishing large projects or final reports before the holiday break frees up your mind to enjoy time off and keep work at work. Strict time management can make for some busy weeks leading up to holiday breaks, but will allow you to free up your mental space and relax before any celebrations. One of the best ways to practice time management is simply through a mental exercise, using healthy words such as “no,” “later,” or “instead of.” Say no to distractions during the weeks before the holidays to focus on work. Be sure to negotiate and manage expectations with your clients, supervisors, and peers to ensure that quality work is being done in a manner that protects the holidays for everyone in your workplace.

Tip #3: Be Intentional

Being intentional with time spent with family and friends is important, not just around the holidays but all year round. Sometimes work can be consuming, but it’s important for healthy  relationships to purposefully put work out of mind to prioritize your personal relationship and enjoy the moment with them. Intentionality doesn’t just apply to personal relationships, but also to workplace relationships. Though the holiday anticipations may be looming ahead, make sure you are present with your clients, colleagues, and superiors. You can ensure they enjoy the holidays, too, by helping the work get done more efficiently and more effectively. Both worlds need your attention to guarantee quality time with your personal relationships and a healthy work environment so you can focus on what’s really important.

Tip #4: Embrace the Holiday Spirit

Whatever it is that brings on your holiday joy, make sure you take time for it. Listening to Christmas music, practicing Kwanzaa or Hanukkah traditions, or making traditional holiday food are all ways to get in the mood for the season. Whichever holiday you celebrate, remember what the holidays mean to you, whether it’s religion, family time, or community generosity. Remembering why you celebrate allows you to embrace the joy that each holiday brings and give you space for mental and spiritual rejuvenation that will fuel you into a new year of work and play.

Tip #5: Be Honest With Yourself

Although the holidays are traditionally joyful times, they are not joyful for everyone. This season can highlight feelings of loneliness or sadness around broken relationships or draining work environments. Depression around the holidays is not a sign of weakness. Many people are affected by depression and loneliness, so it’s important to be honest with yourself if you are not okay. Seeking help, confiding in a trusted friend, going outside, and eating healthy foods can provide ways to cope with depression and holiday blues. Allowing yourself space to grieve or feel sadness or seeking help are ways to support yourself and start your journey towards healing.

Whatever the holiday brings – whether it be lockdowns, loneliness, or joyful celebrations – taking time to separate work from festive celebrations can keep you on the road to better mental health and an increase in quality of life for the holiday season and all seasons.