Three steps to use the Christmas break to focus on stress management

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As a nation, our workplace stress is reaching epidemic levels.

More than half a million workers suffered from stress-related illnesses last year, with workload one of the most commonly cited reasons.

With potential family dramas, mountains of social obligations and the financial strains of the season on top of a busy few work weeks at the end of the year, Christmas can be a peak time for stress to take its toll – but it doesn’t need to be. In fact, for those of us lucky enough to get some time away from work over the festive period, it can be the perfect opportunity for a reset and to make sure you’re at your best when you return in January.

Look back on the year’s achievements – then look ahead

With the demands of a busy day-to-day schedule, it’s a good idea to look back on how much you’ve achieved over the previous twelve months. This can be a helpful way to re-focus your mind on the bigger picture – and on positive things. New Year is a natural time to reflect on all you’ve done and the new skills you’ve built up.

However many days you have away from the office during Christmas, it’s a good use of your time to consider what you want from the approaching year too. January and February can be notoriously “low” months – not least because of the often-dreary weather! – but seeing them as the start of a year-long project of growth, moving towards a specific and achievable end goal, can give them a feeling of excitement and optimism.

Enjoy the holidays – but don’t over-indulge

It’s the season of parties and celebrations, and enjoying all of the joys this time has to offer can be a great way to de-stress and reward yourself for a great year.

Problems can start when these behaviours become coping mechanisms, however. 46 per cent of workers have eaten unhealthily due to stress, with a significant number taking up or increasing their drinking or smoking. Make sure you’re not going into January with a mountain to climb in terms of your health and wellbeing.

Make a stress-busting New Year’s resolution

As you’re planning to start January off on the right foot, looking for ways to maintain healthy stress levels throughout the year can be very rewarding.

Taking up a stress-relieving hobby can be a great way to take care of your mental health. People with demanding jobs, along with busy family and social lives to juggle, often feel that they don’t have time to take up anything new. However, it’s precisely these people who would benefit most from taking up gardening, writing, the guitar or even beekeeping! Taking time away from a busy schedule and completing an activity that’s “just for you” is a great way to recharge. It also opens up new opportunities to socialise with others who share your hobby – another surefire way to reduce stress when you can discuss anything that may be bothering you in a safe environment.

Regardless of how long a break you are taking this festive period, it’s crucial to ensure you manage your mental health properly. Setting personal goals and limits alongside your downtime and rewards will allow you to keep a balance and come back in the New Year a more determined person and employee.

About the author

Darren Hockley is managing director of eLearning provider DeltaNet International. The company offers a wide range of courses for businesses, including training on health and safety and stress management. Founded in 1999, DeltaNet is a forward-thinking company that creates engaging content to ensure businesses remain compliant. Darren is a keen advocate of good stress management practices and always encourages open discussion regarding mental health.

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