Avoiding Holiday Stress…at Home and in the Workplace

Many of us vow every year to “get a jump on” the holidays so that everything doesn’t wind up being so last-minute and crazy. Of course, this is a very good idea — even though we sometimes fall a little short of the goal despite our best intentions and wind up stressed out.

While we usually think in terms of getting a jump on shopping, decorating and general holiday planning, this is actually a good strategy to apply in the workplace, too. So in addition to general tips to help everyone avoid holiday stress, we have some suggestions for both employees and employers that can make a difference at work.

Avoiding stress in the workplace

If you have one or more big projects looming in the final months of the year, it might be worth it to put in some extra work early on so you can get them wrapped up before the holiday festivities begin. With this kind of advance planning, you might even be able to take a personal or vacation day to deal with things as the big day draws near.

If you’re an employer, you have a stake in all of this too. After all, it’s to your advantage to have employees who are happy and productive during the holiday season rather than frazzled and stressed-out. To ease their burden, consider creative approaches such as these:

  • Offer workers more flexible schedules, including the possibility of working from home.
  • Set reasonable hours in the days surrounding the holidays.
  • Rearrange deadlines or fiscal years so they don’t coincide with the holidays.
  • Offer your employees “Holiday Savings Accounts” (a percentage or set dollar amount set aside from paychecks) to ease holiday financial stress.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, there are still employees who will inevitably fall victim to holiday-related stress. Companies that have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place can refer their employees for compassionate, professional help for dealing with family, health, financial and emotional issues — during the holidays or at any time — all at no cost to the employee. WorkLife by Meridian has information on EAPs and how they benefit both employers and employees.

Avoiding stress at home

That vow to plan ahead and start working on the holidays early every year is one that’s always worth making, even if we don’t always fulfill it. Beyond this, here are some more things to keep in mind that can go a long way toward easing stress at home as the holidays approach:

  • Your desire to make the holidays wonderful for your loved ones is sincere and comes from the best of intentions. But it shouldn’t be entirely up to you to make this happen.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help from family members and friends. The responsibility for a happy holiday should be shared by all.
  • Don’t over-promise or take on more than you can handle. It’s OK to set boundaries and say “no” to family and friends when you’re at the limit of what you can reasonably do.
  • Looking after your health is a major plus in helping you deal with holiday stress. Eat healthier, exercise and get plenty of sleep. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, and don’t overdo the alcohol.
  • Remember that others are stressed, too. Resolve to cut bosses, co-workers, family and friends, store employees, drivers and anyone else you encounter a little slack.

You can get a handle on holiday stress!

In the end, think of what’s most important this holiday season. The smiles and best wishes you share with family, friends, and strangers, too — they count for more than every present, meal or family gathering being “perfect.” The holidays should be fun for everyone — including you.

Best wishes of the season from everyone at WorkLife by Meridian and Meridian HealthCare!


Larry Moliterno is CEO of Meridian HealthCare and currently serves as President of the Ohio Alliance of Recovery Providers. Send email to lmoliterno@MeridianCommunityCare.org