For many, the festive season spells excitement and indulgence. But this isn’t the case for everyone. For lots of people, Christmas evokes stress and anxiety, both at home and in the workplace. Managing your work-life balance becomes more difficult than ever, and there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. Pair this with dark gloomy weather, and those who are susceptible to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) struggle even more with the winter months.
The workplace can be a particularly stressful place over Christmas. With many offices seeing an increase in work and demanding deadlines, employees are more likely to feel under pressure. In one study, 54 per cent of employees admitted to feeling stressed on the run up to Christmas. They gave reasons ranging from present buying, to an increased workload, to managing personal expenses. During a season when you’re expected to spend more, socialise more, and still somehow work more, it’s no wonder that Christmas anxiety affects workers. However, there are many ways you could make a change this Christmas, in order to alleviate your own stress and the stress of others.
- Plan ahead
Planning ahead is one of the most effective ways to manage Christmas stress, both in the office, and at home. Make lists that you can work through systematically, and don’t fall into the trap of being over-ambitious! You don’t want to be stressed about present buying during work hours, so plan to start early this year! If you schedule in an out-of-office hour each weekend from the start of November, you will have all your shopping done well ahead of time. This way, the task won’t conflict with your busy workdays. If you get ahead of the game with presents, wrapping paper, and gift tags (you could even consider bespoke gift tag printing online) you’ll avoid the dreaded Christmas Eve last-minute rush. In addition, you have planned ahead for work tasks as well as present buying, you won’t be as short of time and you’ll be able to enjoy the final few festive days of work stress-free!
- Take advantage of flexible working hours
If your workplace offers flexible working hours or the ability to work from home, then now is the time to utilise these schemes! If this isn’t offered, you should consider raising it as an idea with your manager. Flexible working hours are particularly beneficial for anyone suffering with SAD. The ability to manage your working hours yourself, on days when it is getting difficult to make it into the office, is vital.
- Shop online
Online shopping can be a lifesaver if you’re short of time and beginning to stress. Whether it’s gifts for the family, or a last-minute workplace secret Santa present, it’s always easier to jump online on your lunch break than make time for a stressful shopping trip. This way, you could get presents delivered to your workplace rather than your home address and no prying eyes will see them! What’s more, you won’t have to worry about missing your delivery at home, as there will likely be someone at work to take your precious parcel.
- Know your rights to sick leave
Workplaces are under legal requirements to allow sick leave when needed, whether it be physical or mental illness you are struggling with. Current generations work longer hours than ever, giving a lot to their employers — it is in the best interests of your employer to make sure you stay healthy and happy. You are entitled to up to seven days sick leave after self-certifying your illness. After this, you will need a note from your doctor to confirm the reason you’re not fit for work.
- Switch to decaf
For many, a warm cup of coffee or tea is essential for getting through a gruelling workday. Especially over the winter months, it’s hard to consider getting through the day without these warming vices. However, caffeine can intensely heighten your anxiety levels. If you are feeling stressed and anxious in the workplace, make the switch to decaf — at least over the hectic Christmas season.
- Make time for exercise
With a gruelling work schedule and a hectic home life, it can be more difficult than ever to make time for exercise over the Christmas period. Dark evenings and mornings, paired with frosty weather, add to this off-putting environment. Despite all this, you should try and make some time to take care of your mind and body through exercise. If your schedule is tight, why not ask your manager about the possibility of arranging a pre-work yoga class? Or, if finances are your main concern, find out if your workplace could get a corporate gym membership — lowering prices for you, and increasing health and productivity for them. It could be the perfect Christmas present for a workplace to gift its employees.
- Socialise with work friends
Work Christmas parties are a great way to alleviate that Christmas stress. It isn’t often that colleagues all find the time to celebrate together, but this makes the yearly work Christmas party so much more special. It’s a great chance to let your hair down and get to know your colleagues out of the ‘deadline stress’ context. Of course, not everyone looks forward to the office party. A recent study from Perkbox, found that over one in four employees don’t enjoy their work’s Christmas party due to various reason. With this in mind, think of other activities you could organise in the workplace that could alleviate stress without conjuring social anxiety. A mince pies and mulled wine evening after work is a great, more low-key and relaxing, alternative to an all-out Christmas party.
- Or, don’t
We’re probably all familiar with FOMO (the fear of missing out), but have you ever heard of JOMO (the joy of missing out)? This acronym describes the pleasure of taking a break from social activity in order to enjoy personal time, and it highlights an absolute necessity. Christmas time can be stressful enough as it is, so don’t put pressure on yourself to engage with every social activity (both in and out of work) just because you feel obliged. Taking valuable time for yourself is an essential part of self-care, and this doesn’t change over the festive period!
Different tips work for different people, but if you action even a couple of these ideas this winter, you will feel a weight lift off your shoulders! Give them a try and remember to look after yourself this Christmas.