Keep calm and carry on…

**Putting your feet up with a mince pie while Mum reheats yet another round of turkey leftovers is what the winter holidays are all about. For most of us. For those of us working in customer service, retail or catering, Christmas is the busiest and most stressful time of the year.**

In the past few weeks I’ve been subjected to cursing customers, crying colleagues, and queue-fights. After five Christmases at Pret a Manger, working 12-hour shifts and drinking tea continually to avoid falling asleep standing up, here are my top tips:

**1) Prepare.** Get a reasonable amount of sleep, eat breakfast and leave plenty of time to get there. It’s going to be packed with panicked men picking up last minute gifts for their girlfriend and privileged children spending their Christmas money on discounted Gucci handbags.

**2) Do stuff you enjoy outside of work.** Whether that’s disappearing in a book or drowning yourself in a few pints at the pub with your friends to bitch about the blisters on your aching feet, don’t let your job become your life over Christmas. Your professional life might have been completely tipped on its head, but separating your home life from the madness will keep you going.

**3) Breathe and keep smiling.** Being a whinge is no fun at all for you, your co-workers or your customers. No one is particularly ecstatic to be working during the holidays, so don’t be the one to drag it down. Smile, engage with the people around you, and be kind and polite. It’s far easier to get through a pleasant shift than one in which you bark at everyone who comes near the till.

**4) Work as a team.** It’s not just you who is stressed and tired. We’re all all sleep deprived and easily aggravated. Your supervisor is under pressure from their shop manager, who is being shouted at by their regional manager, who is closely watched by their UK manager. If you’ve sold out of skater dresses and know there are more in the back, take the initiative and put them out. Working together is key to keep the shop working at full capacity, and will do wonders to boost your team’s morale.

**5) Don’t forget your family –** it’s Christmas! When all is done, a job is a job. The traditional things that matter at Christmas are friends and family; spending time with loved ones. Enjoy the time you do have together, and set aside spare moments (if you get any). Stuff some more turkey down your gob and put on ‘Elf.’ Happy 2013!


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