While it may be the most wonderful time of the year for some people, for many the holidays can be associated with stress, chaos and overwhelm.

Clocking in, traffic, zoom calls, calendars… managing your stress at work on a daily basis can prove challenging as is.  Add to the mix budgeting for gifts, family commitments and celebrating holy days, and your emotions can quickly snowball and become difficult to manage.  It is especially important to understand and be aware of the invisible impact the holidays can have on stress levels and productivity, both in yourself and in your employees.

Managing Stress in the Workplace

Here are some signs that your employees may be experiencing holiday burnout:

  • Changes in behaviour i.e. becoming irritable or withdrawn
  • Changes in appearance or hygiene
  • Lack of focus/concentration
  • Uncharacteristic interactions with coworkers
  • Inability to fulfill commitments, meet deadlines
  • Absenteeism/presenteeism

Here are some things you can do to combat holiday burnout:

  • Be flexible: consider incorporating micro wellness breaks into the day so your team can refocus or get some fresh air. In addition, expanding on flexibility so that employees are able to attend events or be available for other holiday obligations can also aid in alleviating some pressure.
  • Teamwork: help your employees manage deadlines and priorities, and encourage your team to work collaboratively to accomplish tasks. Also, encourage team members to look out for each other.  The coworker working in close proximity to an employee may notice signs of burnout before you do.
  • Health and Wellness: encourage people who are feeling ill to take a sick day or work from home to prevent the spread of illness.

In addition to the points above, guiding an employee to your company’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) as necessary can help them address stressors that you are not able to.  Most EFAPs consist of a number of resources covering a wide range of topics.  EFAP specialists can also direct employees to applicable long-term support, if necessary.  Remember, it is important that any one-on-one conversation with an employee about EFAP be respectful and held in private.  Notify your HR department of such interactions with employees so they can be appropriately documented, and guidelines are followed.

Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Overcommitting, overscheduling and overbudgeting can cause unnecessary stress.  Here are some ways to minimize it:

Set Boundaries:

Be open and honest at and outside the workplace.  Let your coworkers know when you have too much on your plate.  Don’t stay unnecessarily late or work on the weekends, this will take away from the personal time you need to recharge.  In your personal life, learn to say “no.”  Always saying “yes” can lead you to feel overwhelmed and resentful.  There is no need to expose yourself to situations or people who cause you stress.

Manage Your Time:

Take a few minutes to plan ahead and get organized, so you can do everything you want to do.  If it helps, set certain days aside for certain activities and create helpful lists.  This will help you remember things and avoids that last-minute hassle.  While you’re focusing on time, be sure to set some aside for self-care as well!

Be Mindful:

Focus on self-awareness and your own emotional intelligence by checking in with yourself regularly.  Accept your feelings and exercise self-compassion.  Reframe issues and focus on the bigger picture.

Healthy Habits:

Try your best to maintain a healthy diet during the holidays.  Having a healthy snack before attending a holiday event so you don’t go overboard on foods that are high in salt, sugar or caffeine.  In addition, practicing good sleep habits and exercising can also naturally lower stress levels.  Self-medicating with cigarettes or alcohol is not the answer.