Dealing with Holiday Stress in the Workplace

Today is the last ‘normal Friday of the year; with Thanksgiving week beginning, this is the time when our focus tends to go to holiday preparation and less on job tasks. Most people are taking off to see family for Thanksgiving so who picks up the work from them? Next Friday – Black Friday – kicks off the Christmas season, creating more stress.

While organizations are winding down their end-of-the year fiscal operations, there is a push to ensure the books look good. This can lead to stress for employees who are tasked to achieve organizational goals that will lead to a successful year-end. But there is another stress that the holidays bring within the organization which involves workers; this can include:

  • stress to get holiday preparations going, which can include: decorating the house, buying presents, baking holiday goods, going to parties, attending their children’s school functions, planning visits to families who may live out-of-town, or dealing with having family come to visit
  • worrying about taking time off for these preparations, either by realizing you don’t have enough time or working over-time to get the hours (and the money)
  • feeling pulled between work and home obligations and being in overwhelm and guilt at trying to please two masters
  • feeling lonely or sad as this time of year is when family comes together so many employees are far away from theirs, or are distanced, or are dealing with poor relationships or missing loved ones who are no longer here
  • worry about dealing with the hustle and bustle – and poor behaviors- the holidays can bring: rude or demanding customers, heavy traffic, unwillingness to be courteous or to help out when needed

I see this as a two-fold problem, which is that of the individual worker as well as the organizations. There are solutions that each can take to help sail through this holiday season more smoothly, recognizing that how each individual handles stress is an impacting force. Here are some tips to help the holidays be less-stressful:

  • For workers, making goals and lists will help to see what is in your schedule over these next weeks; I recommend taking a piece of paper for each task you believe you have to get accomplished, which can include: decorating, paying bills (you still have your daily life to consider), buying presents, sending Christmas cards, baking, parties or other functions to attend, travel plans, personal time (you do need to add yourself into the mix). Once you list them all, go back and number them in order of importance, which is how you can start ticking them off and feel more relaxed. For your work tasks, do the same – this way, you will know how to plan your days more productively. Be sure to have good tools in your ‘toolbox’ to help when you feel overly stressed or emotional; this can include: journaling, coloring, deep breathing, s0me form of exercise, asking for help, getting sleep, or a host of other good techniques to relieve the stress
  • For employers, they can recognize that this time of year is a time of high-stress; some interventions they can do include: paying attention to employees who may seem more irritable or other behavior changes that could indicate they are feeling stressed; having open dialogues with employees so they feel recognized; recognizing their work by allowing them some extra time off, perhaps 30 minute lee-way in the morning, at lunch or at the end of the day to attend to their to-do list; having a luncheon or bringing in snacks, or decorating the office. Any of these can make worker feels appreciated and recognized, which can get the work done while leaving workers more satisfied at the end of the day.

Stress will occur during this time but it doesn’t have to be impactful or debilitating. Being prepared and planned will help you merrily get through the holidays stress-free. If you’d like help getting through the holidays stress-free, contact us at


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