Tis the season for family get-togethers and Hallmark family movies, but for many employees the holiday season can be the most difficult time of the year. As the world’s largest independent provider of employee support solutions, Workplace Options receives significantly more requests for support during the holidays. Last year, the global number of calls associated with anxiety and depression received in October through December increased by 82% over the previous quarter.
There are a number of reasons why people struggle more emotionally during the holidays, beginning with the season itself. In many parts of the world, daylight is shorter and temperatures are colder this time of year, resulting in less time spent outdoors or doing physical activity.
The sheer busyness of the holidays is another common stress factor. Not only are there more errands to run, (i.e. presents to buy, packing to do), but the calendar is also full of concerts, parties, and family commitments.
Anxiety over finances is also common during the holidays. The push to buy and spend begins weeks before black Friday and lasts all season long. You may feel bad for spending too much and going overboard, or worry that you haven’t spent enough, and fear disappointing people.
For those grieving a personal loss, the season is particularly difficult. Whether someone is grieving the absence of a family member who has passed or one that is just no longer present in their lives, watching other families celebrating together can trigger painful emotions.
According to Shannon LaRance, LCSWA, a clinical counselor with Workplace Options, the holiday season sets up unrealistic expectations, leaving many people feeling overwhelmed, disappointed and often lonely.
“People put a lot of pressure on themselves to create picture-perfect holiday memories,” shares Shannon. “But the expectations are impossible to live up to.”
When Shannon is providing support to someone struggling with anxiety due to the holidays, she encourages them to develop their own personal roadmap for the season. “A holiday roadmap encourages people to think through their schedule and decide in advance what their holiday will look like,” shares Sharon.
Below are five tips that Shannon suggests for developing a healthy, holiday roadmap.
1. Set realistic expectations for your time and energy.
By the end of the holidays we are exhausted, because we have simply tried to do too much. Decide in advance what events you really want to attend and politely decline the others. Give yourself the freedom to say no without guilt.
2. Set realistic expectations for your finances.
Decide on a budget that is reasonable. Don’t get roped into the commercialism of the season.
3. Surround yourself with healthy people.
Make an effort to spend time with people who encourage you and support you. Avoid toxic people, even if that means declining some holiday invitations. If you are dealing with grief or addiction, consider joining a support group so you can be around other people sharing similar struggles.
4. Take care of yourself physically.
Don’t sacrifice sleep in an effort to get things done. Instead, recognize that you need rest to be able to recharge. Aim to eat healthy, even with the office break room is full of sugary snacks. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol.
5. Take care of yourself emotionally.
Schedule quiet time for yourself daily to unplug and unwind. During this time you may choose to walk, journal, meditate, or practice mindfulness.
Shannon adds that ultimately you get to choose what kind of holiday season you want. So make it your own.
Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal needs to become healthier, happier and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. To learn more visit www.workplaceoptions.com.