We just survived Thanksgiving weekend and now, we brace ourselves for the rest of the holidays.
While the holidays can bring joy to many, it can also bring increased anxiety and sadness to others. For most of us the season is an emotionally charged mixed-bag of ups and downs.
Why do we tend to feel sad and overwhelmed?
Oh, I don’t know…. it could be the unrealistic expectations we have which leave us feeling like there is a big gap between what other people are experiencing and what we’re experiencing.
Or it could be the unrealistic fantasies we have about happy gatherings with family and friends, frolicking children, gorgeous meals and winter wonderlands we see in the movies.
(I personally think the relentless and repetitive holiday music is to blame. )
But, who knows? It could be the financial pressure of gift-giving, or the over-scheduling and over-committing. Or maybe it’s the lack of sunshine and little sleep we are getting. Need I go on?
So, what can employers do in the workplace to support their employees during this time?
Allow scheduling flexibility –anything that helps relieve stress --like letting someone work from noon to nine so they can have a morning off while the stores are empty- can be a godsend.
Encourage volunteering - Allow employees to volunteer on behalf of the company (collecting children’s gifts, spending time with lonely elderly). It provides great “corporate citizen” PR and employees feel better after doing something for others.
Consider trying /offering full-spectrum lamps – Yes, if you work indoors and days are short, the lack of sunshine can affect your mood. Google seasonal affective disorder (SAD) to find info and resources.
Encourage staff to take time off – especially if you have a use-i- or-lose-it policy.
Avoid having big project deadlines around the holidays -- if that’s unavoidable, then provide enough resources and extra help.
Check in with those who’ve suffered loss – don’t forget those who’ve experienced a tragedy, death or break up are more vulnerable to sadness. Acknowledging you remember with a simple “I know this time of year can be hard” or “How are you doing?” “I’m thinking about you” is much appreciated.
Hope these suggestions help make everyone’s holidays a little more mellow.
Originally posted on HR Box blog.