people waiting in agony to use the portable toiletAh the day after Christmas; one of the most infamous days for store returns. Today is the day that parents flock to stores to return gifts that were broken upon unwrapping or that their kiddies didn’t quite like (clothes too). Teens stand in line to exchange the “parents just don’t understand” type of gifts while others wait to exchange it’s-the-thought-that-counts gifts that they’d never use.

Oh, what an exciting day. And for those who have the “luxury” of standing in line—that is being off work—a great deal of Americans were forced to trudge back into the office. They woke up to an exciting, gift and family filled Christmas Day only to wake up to the back-to-work routine the next morning. Bummer.

Standing in line and sitting in a cubicle post-Christmas Day can both be equally dreadful. How can consumers and workers cope?

Below are four simple steps both groups of people can take to ease the day after Christmas activity blow:

Strike up conversation

You’re going to be in line for awhile, right? Might as well strike up a conversation with the person in front of or behind you to pass the time. Maybe you both can share your post-Christmas Day “horror stories” from previous years. Who knows where the conversation will lead? And you just may get a few laughs from doing this, a surefire way to lighten the long-line burden.

The same is true while at work. Talk to your co-workers about their holiday plans. Swap stories about gift exchanges, time spent with family and the previous day’s activities. You can even vent about how you’d rather be home than in the office; a good conversation usually lifts the spirit.

Pop in headphones

Maybe you don’t feel like talking to anyone as you wait in line; why not pop in your headphones and listen to music? At least you can help pass the time listening to your favorite tunes and drown out the post-holiday commotion.

Listening to music at work always helps one to tune out distractions and focus. You can play your favorite holiday album to cheer yourself up. Or maybe you’ll decide to ditch the headphones and play your tunes at a comfortable “office volume” so your co-workers can enjoy as well. I mean, who can stay bitter about being at work with “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” ringing in their ears?

Exercise patience

The day after Christmas return line is sure to be long; store workers are sure to be frustrated and other “standees” are sure to get tired of waiting. You will certainly have to exercise patience today as you wait for your turn. Offer the cashiers a smile and inquire about their holiday. Wish them a happy New Year as you depart, and don’t forget to thank them for their time. A polite attitude and gesture of appreciation always makes one feel better—especially one who doesn’t have the benefit of sleeping in post-Christmas Day.

If you do have to work today, you may need to exercise patience as well. Your co-workers may be disappointed with having to work today as well, or your team members may be stressed about finishing projects before the New Year. Be kind and courteous to everyone. And don’t forget to smile, which is most often contagious.

Stay busy to pass time

Find a way to keep yourself preoccupied as you wait in line. Make a phone call, a to-do list, clear out the memory on your phone…whatever you can do with any devices you have. And if all else fails, Candy Crush should definitely help pass the time.

Staying busy in the office is a great way to quickly get through the work day. Make a list of assignments when you first arrive and tackle each one-by-one. As you steadily work and focus on the tasks at hand (as opposed to being out of the office) you’ll be surprised how fast 5pm arrives.

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