Avoid the Festive Blues
Most workplaces are now in full festive swing, and it’s all hands on deck to get everything finished before staff can leave to enjoy a Merry Christmas with family and friends. However, it’s important to remember that this time of year isn’t jolly for everyone, and even people who thoroughly enjoy the perfect break can struggle with the return to work. In fact, the third Monday in January (21st) has been sadly dubbed Blue Monday, given many psychologists consider it one of the most depressing days of the year.
But rather than letting this gloomy day creep up on us all, there are some simple things that every employer can implement, to protect staff wellbeing and mental health during these cold dark days of the year.
Top 5 Tips
Prohms’ award-winning mental health practitioner Kirsty Vickerman shares her top 5 tips…
- Recognise stress
With deadlines mounting and many employees struggling with lengthening ‘to do’ lists in their personal time too, this merry time of year can also become a very stressful one. Sometimes, there is no avoiding this, but, if/where possible, look for ways to try and ease the pressure. Consider what’s truly urgent, and what could spill into January, for instance.
- Be considerate
For many people, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but for others coping with bereavement, loneliness, relationship struggles or other difficult circumstances, this season can be tough. Try to be mindful of this, and where feasible, bring some festivities into work to lighten the mood a little.
Also, remember that, in line with tip 1, the run up to Christmas and the return to work in January can amplify any existing mental health issues. Keep a proactive eye on people you suspect may need added support and have an open door policy should anyone need to talk.
- Make time to reflect
For some people, New Year’s resolutions are a little clichéd, but December can be a good time for managers to reflect on the past 12 months before considering anything they’d do differently in the year to come. Think about this specifically with regards to employee engagement, leadership, communication, culture and wellbeing. Could January be a fresh start or the beginning of even a simple new initiative to give staff a boost? It doesn’t need to cost the earth – why not encourage people to take a 20 minute walk on their lunch break, for example? Or promote healthier treats – rather than cakes – when it’s somebody’s birthday?
- Give people a positive kickstart
During this reflective exercise, take time to record the team’s achievements from the year as well as any goals for 2019. Sharing these during a pre-holiday get-together with staff could be one of the easiest – and most powerful – ways to ensure the next 12 months get off to the most positive start. Rather than waiting until the return to work in January, many of our clients hold ‘kick-off’ meetings before they close for Christmas, for instance – it’s a great motivational tool.
- Promote self-care
There are so many things employers can do to safeguard the wellbeing of colleagues, but it is important to remember that we are all responsible for our own health. So, whilst bosses can provide a positive and considerate environment, this is only half of the answer – people need to take steps to protect their physical and mental wellness too. Share your own tips via simple infographics, posters, email bulletins or a good old fashioned end of year chat to show staff you care, but that they have to do their bit as well. From having a digital detox, to eating in moderation and making time to do what they enjoy, it will all help. On a more formal note, it is often helpful to remind people of the occupational health support, as well as employee assistance programs available over the holidays too, if anyone is worried.
Of course these tips are very generic, and when it comes to the health of employees, there’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ solution. So, if you would like to discuss workplace wellbeing in greater detail, please contact us.