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7 ways to combat holiday stress and depression

December 6, 2018
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The “most wonderful time of the year” doesn’t feel that way to everyone. While the holidays often bring joy and excitement, they can also feel overwhelming for some. Levels of stress and depression rise in November and December.

In fact, 62 percent of Americans find the holidays somewhat or very stressful. Almost a third fret over balancing work and holiday events. And a majority of people diagnosed with mental illness, including depression, say the holidays exacerbate their conditions.

Financial issues, unrealistic expectations, recent life changes such as a divorce or death, everyday work concerns, and changing weather patterns all lead to tension and fatigue during the holidays. These can also contribute to depression.

Even the boss is not immune from the holiday blues. Encourage your employees to stay ahead of holiday challenges by embracing the below strategies below — and you can use them too.

•    Keep expectations in check. Setting them too high (“This will be the best holiday ever!”) leads to disappointment and self-criticism.
•    Give yourself permission to feel sad or angry about life changes. Perhaps this is your first holiday after the death of a parent or a divorce. Allow yourself time to adjust.
•    Set differences aside. Gathering everyone for a conflict-free meal might mean making certain topics off-limits at the table. Set your parameters before the celebration begins.  
•    Continue good habits. If you’re trying healthy new habits — such as going to the gym — keep at them. Staying healthy boosts your psyche — for example, 30 percent of Americans say exercising decreases stress.
•    Learn to say no. You don’t have to participate in every holiday activity. Trying to do so will just tire you out and leave you unable to enjoy the ones you really love. When you must say yes — compensate by cutting other commitments.
•    Get some fresh air. A few minutes of sunlight can be a mood enhancer, especially for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Park at the outer edge of the lot at work, the grocery store or your children’s school to up your time outside.
•    Seek help. If you have tried decreasing your anxiety to no avail, consider speaking to a mental health professional.

Your employees’ safety and health always top your wish list. By offering them these tools to manage the interruption of regular routines, including usual work hours, you will all enjoy a more productive, merrier holiday.

To learn more about the benefits of wellness at work, visit our Health and Wellness page.

Pinnacol Assurance assumes no responsibility for management or control of customer safety activities. Please ensure your business meets the requirements of all federal, state, and local laws, regulations, or ordinances related to workplace safety.

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