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Good Tidings to All: The Importance of Mental Wellness During the Holidays

Good Tidings to All: The Importance of Mental Wellness During the Holidays
Posted on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 by Rae Shanahan
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The holidays are a time of celebration and togetherness, but they can also be a source of stress and even difficulty, for a variety of reasons.

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We all want our workplaces to reflect the joyful spirit of the holidays, but it’s important to remain aware of the very real challenges that our colleagues may be facing at this time of year. The holidays can be stressful — either financially, due to gift purchases, travel, and meals, or emotionally, particularly for those who have lost a loved one or are facing a painful situation in their personal life. Sometimes, the pressure of creating the “perfect” holidays, complete with cookies, presents, decorating, and more, can be tough to manage along with work and our busy daily lives.

How can we ensure our workplace is supportive of employee wellness during the holidays? These three tips will help you develop awareness and sensitivity towards those who may find the holidays difficult.

Remember your benefits. Benefits packages increasingly emphasize wellness, which can and should encompass physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. A simple email sent as an end-of-year reminder to your employees can bring wellness programs and incentives to the top of their mind. Benefits such as free counseling services, possibly through a toll-free hotline, can be important for anyone struggling with depression during the holiday season.

Does your company offer fitness classes or gym membership reimbursements? If so, remind your employees they have this support, encouraging them to take advantage of the opportunity to get active or take a yoga class. Exercise is a valuable stress reducer, so helping your employees to make time for fitness can go a long way towards easing anxiety at this time of year. Perhaps you have financial wellness services available that address credit card debt and budgets. Now is the time to let your staff know these resources are available, as they’re dealing with holiday expenses and planning budgets for the new year.

Practice empathy. Not everyone feels joyous during the holidays, and there is nothing wrong with that. Understanding and accepting the feelings of others — i.e., being empathetic — is vital to creating a workplace that is welcoming and inclusive to all your employees. Someone who may have recently lost a relative, or whose adult children can’t travel home for the holidays, may not be filled with cheer. Avoid the tendency to tell people to smile or teasing them to not be a Scrooge; there may be more to their “bah humbug” attitude than meets the eye, and for those struggling during the holidays, it’s important to acknowledge these feelings and not force a smile.

Celebrate with kindness. Holiday parties are a wonderful tradition at many organizations, and whether you hold yours onsite at the office or at a different location, be sure they’re inclusive for all your employees. If employees decline the invitation, it may be that they’re overwhelmed with activities at this time of year and need to make time for self-care. Relatedly, your colleagues may want to avoid drinking alcohol, and in fact companies have been scaling back on holiday parties in recent years due in part to worries around alcohol use. If you’re concerned about this issue, consider having your celebration during the day. A breakfast or lunch event can be a great way to gather employees together for laughs and enjoying each other’s company, without adding alcohol to the mix.

Interested in more tips to engaging your employees during the holidays? Read our blog: Festive Festivities: 3 Fun Activities To Increase Employee Engagement