3 Tips for a Mentally Healthy Christmas

Dec 6, 2016

The festive season is often a time of joy and celebration. But for many it can also bring stress, anxiety and distraction—both at work and at home. Things like family tensions, excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, loneliness and financial worries can add to what is already a challenging time for some. This increased stress may reduce our ability to detect hazards and increase our likelihood of being involved in an incident.

In the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to take a moment to share some strategies for supporting your team to manage stress more effectively over the holiday season.

1. Nurture strong positive relationships

Research suggests that individuals who connect with others that they trust are more resilient to stress than those who do not have this social resource. Being able to communicate openly and honestly and receive support from trusted colleagues is a critical factor during challenging times. Ways to encourage strong positive relationships might be as simple as connecting and asking how people are doing outside of the work context and letting them know what support is available.

2. Proactively manage stress

When you feel stressed your body produces cortisol. While great in a ‘fight or flight’ scenario, most modern day stressors do not call for this type of response. When present in the body for an extended period of time, cortisol can disrupt our body’s processes. This can be made worse with the excesses of the season, which often interfere with sleep and our normal routine. We can manage this natural response through a range of activities including mindfulness, breathing strategies, exercise, nutrition and more helpful thinking patterns. Over the festive period, encourage your team to ‘take five’, rest and recuperate, and be mindful of their initial stress responses.

3. Reflect on the positive

The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect on your own, your team’s and your organisation’s strengths and achievements. On a personal level it could be an opportunity to recognise someone outside of the usual work routine. It could be with a personal card, recognition in front of the team, or creating an opportunity where people can share their strengths and achievements and what they look forward to in the year ahead.

Recognising when our team are experiencing difficulties and supporting them in managing their stress more effectively is one of the opportunities to ‘show we care’ as leaders.

For more resources to support your team for a safe and happy holiday season, download the My Safe Break Toolkit.

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