For many, the latter part of the year is a happy and joyful time filled with excitement and expectation
The regular festive build up only adding to the hype of the annual Christmas break, and all the parties, evenings out, gifts and fun that comes with it.
But it’s not the same for all. Sometimes, the festive season can be a polar opposite experience for people; with worries, stress and anxiety becoming the overriding sensations against a backdrop of what should be a happy and joyous occasion.
THE PRESSURES OF CHRISTMAS ON THE WORKFORCE
For a holiday that is keenly focused on peace and goodwill, the festive season can actually be an incredibly pressurised time of year – especially for those in business.
The shorter-than-average working month can put enormous strain on organisations looking to get business done before everyone downs tools and makes a beeline for the mulled wine and mince pies. Workloads and targets can increase or decrease exponentially as a result; meaning that workforces are either trying to cram in a month’s worth of work in half the usual time, or potentially scrabbling around to maximise business opportunities before the big break.
For those businesses already struggling, Christmas has the potential to make or break a company and its workforce; meaning it’s vital that businesses have a positive company rewards and incentive culture to keep staff happy and motivated on the run up to the festive season. But, addressing stress in the workplace is only half the issue – many of the pressures of Christmas come from outside the working environment…
FESTIVE FINANCIAL ANXIETIES
Whilst the pressures of the workplace can peak at Christmas, for some there isn’t any relief outside of work. Along with the physical strains the festive season can put on people – the excess party food and alcohol playing a significant part – Christmas can heighten mental stress, too.
Whilst the prospect of relaxing over the Christmas break is often the thing many people look forward to, there are in fact, a number of reasons behind why the holidays can become one of the stressful times of the year.
A recent study found 45% of people find Christmas financially stressful, and it’s not difficult to see why; with gifts to buy, parties to attend and, in the case of smaller employers, a potential slowdown of business over the festive break.
It’s not uncommon to find that people’s wages are having to stretch for longer than usual thanks to– meaning that people may often find themselves financially restricted well-into the new year and totally unprepared should they incur a sudden or unexpected expense.
TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE INTERACTION
Along with finances being under strain, the mental wellbeing of people can also come under more pressure than usual.
Whilst the festive break is often a very sociable time of year, there are people who unfortunately may not have close family or friends to spend time with or may be separated from them. For these people, Christmas can often be the loneliest time of the year.
On the other side of the coin, there are also people who may struggle with the social expectations that Christmas brings.
There are many who find socialising in large groups intimidating or dread the prospect of prolonged periods of time spent with extended families. It’s not just the older generations who can be alone at Christmas; even the millennial generation can often find the festive period a challenge.
All these factors have the potential to create a ‘perfect storm’; exasperating any stress or anxiety that had already been built up over the course of the year stress and pushing people to breaking point.
All of a sudden, spreading a little festive cheer seems more like chore.
TACKLING FESTIVE STRESS HEAD-ON
Of course, there can be any number of factors that lead to stress over Christmas – each unique to a person or workplace. But what actions can you and your colleagues take both at work and in your own time to help relieve the pressures of Christmas?
ONE THING AT A TIME
Try not to become overwhelmed with taking on too many jobs, responsibilities or tasks all at the same time. Plan your tasks for the day and stick to them wherever you can. If you’re feeling like work is getting on top of you and you need help, speak to your colleagues, your manager or HR team. If you’re the one in charge, delegate any work you can to ease pressure on yourself.
DON’T BOTTLE THINGS UP
If you tend to keep your feelings or concerns bottled up, it may be the case that the people around you simply won’t be aware that you’re finding things challenging and perhaps need support. Sometimes, simply talking about your concerns and getting things off your chest to friends, families and colleagues can make a world of difference when you’re feeling stressed.
SET BUDGETS & STICK TO THEM
The pressure to buy gifts for friends, family and colleagues can sometimes lead to a long list of debts into the new year. If you are looking to treat people this festive period, set aside a budget before you go spending and stick to it.
If you’re an employer, look at how you can reward your employees for their efforts with something more personal than a traditional cash bonus. You can also help your employee’s wages stretch further by offering staff discount vouchers as part of an incentives, rewards and motivation package. Not only will this reduce some of their financial stress, it will also help build engagement and a more positive workplace culture – win win!
GET UP & GET MOVING
Whilst a looming deadline might be tying you to your desk, sitting at a desk and staring a screen all day isn’t great for your health. Try to walk around the workplace and have a good stretch every now and then.
If you’re lucky to have an extended period of time off work, don’t give in to the temptation of hiding under a duvet with your favourite snacks and binge-watching the latest films or TV shows! Physical activity is great for lowering stress levels and better yet, helps you stay both physically and mentally healthy, too.
Go for a long country walk, have a workout at the gym or get out and about on a bike – you really will feel much better and refreshed for it.
Yes, we know that Christmas is often filled with the tastiest treats, but always try to look after yourself and avoid any ‘snaccidents’! Sugar, caffeine, alcohol and carb intake – are all key components of poorer diets - can increase dramatically over the holidays, which can lead to weight gain, tiredness and increasingly negative physiological effects – including anxiety, stress and depression.
By all means enjoy your Christmas dinner and a glass of wine or two, but remember the essentials to a balanced, healthy diet; plenty of fresh fruit and veg, 6-8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and not too much red or processed meat.
Christmas is a time for thought and reflection. Take some time to yourself to think about what you’ve achieved over the year, your goals for the year ahead and plan how you’re going to accomplish them. And your goals can be literally anything! From losing some weight and getting more active, to saving for a new car or holiday. Giving yourself something to aim for when the new year rolls around can help keep you motivated and productive even in the most challenging times.
Finally, remember that if you are anxious at the prospect of being alone this Christmas, there are plenty of things you can do that can help you avoid feeling lonely this festive holiday. There are also lots of people out there who can help you, too – including your colleagues at work, your friends and your family – don’t be afraid to tell them how you’re feeling.
If you’re worried about stress, anxiety or depression, make an appointment with your GP to discuss your concerns and what can be done in more detail.
A POSITIVE COMPANY CULTURE CAN HELP COMBAT STRESS IN THE WORKPLACE
Building a positive workplace culture that motivates, rewards and incentivises is one way you can beat stress in the workplace over Christmas. Check out our free e-book: Avoiding the Holiday Slump via the link below and get the full lowdown on what you can do to build a workplace culture that works for everyone!