Why holiday stress doesn’t need to derail productivity

Why holiday stress doesn’t need to derail productivity

By Alyssa Place | Employee Benefit News

While the holidays should be a time of festivities and fun, high expectations paired with the end-of-year work push can cause many employees to feel burned out before the new year even starts. 

Forty-five percent of employees are worried about their stress levels during the holiday season, according to mental health platform, BetterHelp. Finances, shorter deadlines, meeting expectations at work and home, and being over-scheduled were top concerns for employees during this time, according to a report by Healthline. 

But there’s no need to slog through the final weeks of the year feeling anxious, says Karen Rech, a senior EAP trainer at healthcare company Health Advocate. Taking steps to manage stress now can help mitigate burnout during the holidays and beyond. 

“This time of the year, we’re trying to balance remaining work goals, and then preparing for our new personal goals, but what tends to happen is we get out of balance,” Rech says. “We can help manage some of that and shift how individuals and teams adapt, in order to manage the workload for the rest of the year.” 

Rech says the first step is to make an end-of-year game plan, starting with daily tasks and working up to larger, long-term goals. Being mindful around expectations can keep employees focused, while setting healthy habits for the new year, too. 

“[Ask], ‘For today or for this moment, what are my priorities, what’s important for me?'” Rech says. “Then check in with yourself at least once a week and see where you’re at: ‘Where were my strengths? Where were some of my weaknesses?’ Take ownership of what you can do differently to build a stronger foundation and carry that into a new year.” 

Managers can also be involved in this process, by checking in with employees about their holiday PTO to avoid overwork or an end-of-quarter crush. They can also redirect employees to mental health benefits that could help them manage stress, anxiety or a depressive episode, like seasonal affective disorder, a chemical imbalance that affects nearly 10 million people each winter. Employees may also be struggling with stress around family obligations or other holiday challenges that could affect their work. 

“Take the pulse of your team to see how they’re doing, and recognize when they may be struggling a bit,” Rech says. “They might have poor concentration and focus or miss deadlines, or we might notice they’re more irritable or frustrated with their team members. By doing those check-ins, we can start talking about other things to help them.” 

It’s also important for employees to be patient with themselves if they’re struggling to balance everything, and be reminded there are healthier ways of dealing with stress, Rech says. 

“When we’re trying to figure out why we’re stuck, it’s important to identify the problem and thoughts that you’re having, and then deploy some healthy coping tactics,” Rech says. “We tend to over-indulge on many levels — financially, mentally, emotionally, or with food, alcohol, caffeine — but breathing, meditation and some quiet time will help you process and move onto better stuff.” 

View the article at EBN here.