The holidays are upon us! “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” right? The holidays bring an endless and overwhelming ‘to-do’ list, which can be a cause of great stress. For many people it is “The 12 Pains of Christmas” instead of the “The 12 Days of Christmas” —hanging lights, decorating the tree, shopping for gifts, cooking for family, accommodating overnight houseguests, etc. Add this stress to an already stressful work schedule and you may be singing something a bit different than “Silver Bells” this holiday season.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports the following statistics on workplace stress, prior to the holidays:
• 40% of workers report their job is “very or extremely stressful”
• 26% of workers report they are “often or very often burned out or stressed” by their work.
• 29% of workers report they feel “quite a bit or extremely stressed at work”.
The statistics also show that 40% report being already stressed out even before the holidays. In a poll of 600 full-time employees, Accenture’s HR Services found that 66% of the respondents reported additional stress at work during the holidays.
It can be stressful juggling shopping, parties, your child’s school plays, etc. All while still meeting work deadlines, many of which get shortened due to the holidays, but there are many things you and your employer can do to help ease this stress a bit and help you enjoy the season!
Below are suggestions for professionals from SafetyToolboxTalks to help alleviate some of the holiday stress:
Create a calendar for the holiday period, noting who will be at work on which days. If you know in advance that the office will be short-staffed at certain times, you can make plans. This might include reassigning essential tasks, prioritizing duties or hiring temporary help. If most of the office is on vacation, just having an extra person there to answer the telephone could reduce your stress level dramatically.
What absolutely has to be done today, and what can wait until after the holidays? Ask yourself this question when you begin to feel stress at work. If a task can be held for completion in a week or two, set it aside.
Keep It Simple
One reason for holiday stress is the desire to make everything “perfect.” If you’re working during this season, you may have less time for shopping, cooking, social events or travel. Lower your stress level by simplifying your holiday plans.
Organize Your Workspace
If you’re going on vacation, plant to organize your desk before leaving. Label files so that others can find information easily and leave a list of projects that you’re working on. If something needs to be done in your absence, leave written instructions. Your voice mail message should include the date of your return and the name and telephone number of someone in the office who could take an urgent message.
Fatigue, headache, elevated blood pressure, shortness of breath, increased irritability and insomnia. These are all symptoms of stress. You can reduce these symptoms by taking care of yourself during the holiday season. Eat balanced meals, get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol and exercise regularly. Exercise is particularly important for energy and good health during the holiday season. Get a head start on your New Year’s resolution: Talk to your doctor now about creating the right exercise program for you.
If work becomes too stressful, stop and take a number of slow, deep breaths. Inhale, count to 3 slowly and gradually exhale. After 4 or 5 breaths, you probably will feel much more relaxed.
The Spirit of the Season
When your co-workers are on vacation, the phone’s ringing off the hook, the fax machine has run out of paper and you still haven’t finished your holiday shopping, the season may not seem quite so jolly. Nevertheless, do something to remember the real spirit of the holidays. Consider donating gifts to a needy family, collecting canned food for a local shelter or sponsoring “Santa’s visit” to a local children’s hospital. You might find this is the best “stress reliever” of all.”
Remember what the season is really about, and don’t forget to have fun. Nobody wants to be known as the Grinch, so let’s all drink a cup of eggnog and lighten up!