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Managing Holiday Stress
It’s not uncommon to hear people say that they find the holidays to be stressful.
The holidays can be demanding at even the best of times. Add to the mix a worldwide pandemic and stress levels are likely to be higher than usual. These are unprecedented times that none of us have been prepared for. As a result, how best to handle the holidays in the midst of Covid-19 leads many to feel uneasy. For individuals and families coping with mental health challenges and divisiveness brought about by the pandemic, the holidays can be filled with anxiety and/or depression.
So how can managers help combat stress and keep both productivity and spirits up during the holiday season? Here are a few suggestions to help reduce employee stress levels, even in a pandemic:
- Allow time for “personal” time. Being supportive when an employee asks to come in late or leave early can be very helpful. This time away can be rejuvenating and often will lead to a happier and more productive employee.
- Make employees feel valued, especially during heightened holiday stress. For example, one organization created a holiday-themed recognition program, “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Awesome,” and passed out “Holiday Hero” cards where employees wrote examples of their colleagues doing great work and hung them up in common areas.
- Provide healthy options for workplace holiday snacks. Proper nutrition is a major component of employee well-being, and many people struggle to manage it, especially in the workplace during the holidays. Providing healthy snack options can show your employees that eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard or less satisfying. While special treats are welcomed by employees during the holidays, many report wanting healthier options to avoid the common problem of holiday weight gain that results from unhealthy choices during the holiday season.
- Break the stigma around mental health. Many employees struggle with mental health during the holidays. They may be reminded of a lost loved one or feel lonely about not having a family during a time of celebration. Employers can break the stigma surrounding mental health by encouraging leaders to share personal stories about how they have experienced and managed feelings of holiday stress, loneliness or depression. Simply acknowledging that the holidays can be hard on some people can be comforting to employees who are going through a difficult time. Hearing how co-workers handled tough times will help your employees to feel less alone and be more inclined to seek help.
- Help each other out. Employees can help each other too, by looking out for signs of anxiety or depression. These may include a variety of personality changes, such as behaving erratically; being angry or withdrawn, overly nervous, more agitated or quick-tempered; being physically present but not emotionally present, or neglecting self-care. All of these are signs that it is time to get help and should not be ignored.
The above are just a few examples of how employers can help to reduce employee stress and raise spirits and productivity through the holidays. Keep in mind that we are all humans first and employees second.
Stay safe and healthy this holiday season and make sure to take time to care for yourself!