I have really good news for you today. This post has nothing to do with COVID. Instead, I will tell you how to keep your sanity as your loving family gathers for time-honored holiday traditions. Try as you might to keep the friction to a minimum and the stress at bay; it's going to sneak through the door on the coattails of the family troublemaker(s).
Side-glances, muttered comments, eye rolls, snorts, grunts, hmphs and that passive-aggressive compliment delivered with a sweet smile that is anything but sweet are the pre-battle stances everyone hopes to avoid.
Along with the family jitters, many people also deal with a depressed mood brought on by the shorter days. The official name for winter sadness is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and it usually begins in early fall and lasts until spring.
If you are one of the millions who get a bit depressed during winter, then the expectation that you be full of holiday cheer is added pressure. Just being aware that you feel depressed can help you combat its adverse effects on your mood.
Your Well-being on Stress – Just Say, No
Everyday stress compounded by holiday stress is enough to jumble your brain.
Some of you may recall the anti-drug commercial that showed an egg (this is your brain) then the egg being cracked open into a hot frying pan (this is your brain on drugs). Substitute "brain" with well-being and "your brain on drugs" with your brain on stress, and you have the same outcome.
One way to quickly reduce stress is by not taking on more than you can handle, at home and at work. Overextending yourself by saying yes every time someone asks you to host a party, take on an extra project at work, cook dinner, bake cookies, etc., will leave you stressed and exhausted.
Stressful situations ultimately lower your immune system leaving you susceptible to illness. There is no good time to get sick, but one of the worst is during the holidays.
"For peace of mind this holiday season, resign as general manager of the universe."
Some "Don't Just Read 'em – Do em" Tips for Mental Well-being
There are specific things you can do to help improve your mental well-being during the coming months.
Try them to see which works best for you and bookmark this page to use as a quick reference guide you can refer to if you begin to feel overwhelmed.
• Acknowledge how you feel – If you suffer from anxiety (even if you don't), the holidays seldom pass without feeling anxious and apprehensive at some point.
For some, the holidays are shrouded in a veil of sadness because someone they love has died. As they watch the family gather, they wish their loved one could be celebrating with them.
Expressing your emotions to others and yourself will relieve the burden of putting a big smile on your face when you aren't in a joyous mood. People will be understanding and supportive.
encourage your employees to seek support through your organization's EAP. don't have an eap? connect with us to learn more!
• Let your community support you – You likely have a network of friends and family around you, especially if you have lived in one place a long time.
It is difficult to be social when you would rather be alone; however, reaching out to a community group, your religious institution, or participating in events like fundraisers will boost your spirits and broaden your friendships.
• Get realistic about your and others' expectations – The perfect holiday season is a season you enjoy regardless of its flaws. Dinner might be late, and someone may forget the desert, you could run out of brandy, your father might start talking politics or perhaps someone is not following the traditional family plan.
In those moments, you stop and consider the importance of being together, then smile and realize the imperfections are adding character to and making memories of the event.
Also, as families change and grow, it may be impossible to follow your family's traditions completely. When this happens, setting up new traditions within the changing family dynamic can offer a way for everyone to celebrate together.
• Put the disagreements and arguments on hold – You don't have to like someone's ideas or beliefs, and they don't have to like yours. You can still respect each other enough to disagree and set aside differences until a more appropriate time.
Some people may become easily irritated and snap at seemingly innocent conversations. They are likely also feeling the season's stressors, and lending your support rather than confronting their attitude can go a long way in diffusing a potentially volatile situation.
CHECKING IN WITH EMPLOYEES IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA FOR A LEADER, BUT DURING THE HOLIDAYS IT IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT. kEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN AND ALLOW AN OPEN DILOUGUE WITH EMPLOYEES.
• Strike a deal with yourself – If you strike a budget deal with yourself, you are much less likely to head into the new year with financial stress. Decide how much you can realistically afford to spend, then stick to that budget.
Money doesn't buy happiness. Lavish gifts don't make up for anything you may feel guilty about. A small well thought out, and meaningful gift will mean much more than a big expensive one. Quality time spent with the people you love will be the best gift of all.
• Don't do today what you can put off until tomorrow – If you follow that rule, you will find yourself scrambling and stressed come the day of the event.
Try setting events in your calendar and stick to the schedule. Set time aside for shopping, baking, cooking, visiting family and friends and other activities.
END OF YEAR DEADLINES AND PROJECTS AT WORK CAN BE OVERWHELMING. AS A LEADER AND MANAGER, IT IS IMMPERTIVE TO LOOK AT THESE DEADLINES REALISTICALLY AND DETERMINE WHAT REALLY NEEDS TO BE COMPLETED BY YEAR-END AND WHAT CAN Wait UNTIL THE NEW YEAR.
• Don't abandon healthy habits – The holidays are not a time to add stress and guilt to your plate by filling it with sweets or getting a third helping of potatoes. Be cautious with alcohol, especially late in the day, as it contributes to a poor night's sleep.
If you are headed to dinner or a holiday party, try having a healthy snack before you leave so you don't make all the wrong choices while there.
offer employees healthy snacks during the holidays. try organizing a healthy holiday potluck!
Get enough sleep. When you are well-rested, you make better decisions and can keep your emotions in check.
Stay active. Incorporate regular physical activity into each day. Try the old "park in the last spot" trick at the store, so you have to walk further. That should be easy since, during the holidays, those are often the only spots left.
ORGANIZE A COUPLE OF POKER WALKS AT WORK DURING THE HOLIDAYS SEASON, OR PROMOTE WELLNESS STEP CHALLENGES DURING THE FALL AND WINTER.
The magic of the holidays doesn't disappear as you get older. The joy, excitement, and specialness are still there behind the stress and emotional upheaval. Bring the magic back by nurturing yourself, making sure your own needs are met and letting go of your expectations of perfection.
When things don't go as planned, before you get upset, stop a moment and decide the day now has character, and a new memory has been made to talk about in years to come.
Mental well-being is essential to peaceful holidays. A little preparation, a positive attitude, and easing up on expectations will bring back the magic of the season.
Hundreds of organizations support their employees through The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Investing in the right EAP to support your employees before, during and after they face adverse events will help them and help you. Visit www.ulliance.com, or call 866-648-8326.
When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.
Investing in the right EAP or Wellness Program to support your employees will help them and help you. Visit www.ulliance.com, or call 866-648-8326.
The Ulliance Employee Assistance Program can address the
• Stress about work or job performance
• Crisis in the workplace
• Conflict resolution at work or in one’s personal life
• Marital or relationship problems
• Child or elder care concerns
• Financial worries
• Mental health problems
• Alcohol/substance abuse
• Interpersonal conflicts
• AND MORE!
Greenstein, L. (2015, November 19). Tips for Managing the Holiday Blues. Retrieved from NAMI: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2015/Tips-for-Managing-the-Holiday-Blues
Harper, C. (2020, December 14). How To Take Care Of Your Mental Health Over The Holidays. Retrieved from mywellbeing: https://mywellbeing.com/therapy-101/take-care-of-your-mental-health-over-the-holidays
Taylor, K. (2021, October 18). 5 Ways To Deal With Your Mental Health This Holiday Season. Retrieved from https://anxiouscopywriter.com/5-ways-to-deal-with-your-mental-health-this-holiday-season/