When we think back to how “stressed” we used to feel during the holidays, we might long for a bit of that back…especially as we look ahead to what might be an isolated holiday. With your employees coping with burnout and COVID fatigue, the “holiday blues” may be stronger this year than ever. Here are some tips to helping them find peace and wellness during this strange holiday season.
Encourage them to keep up their healthy habits.
It’s easy to slack off on an exercise routine when the days get shorter and colder or to indulge in too much to eat or drink when surrounded by holiday goodies. But everyone feels their best mentally when they are at their best physically, and that includes keeping to a healthy eating and exercise routine. Send them healthy recipes to show them how they can still eat holiday faves, just in a slimmed-down format (check out these updated holiday classics), or start a “12 Days of Christmas” challenge where team members who exercise at least a dozen times during December get some sort of prize. The pandemic may have caused some habits to slide, but there’s no time like the present to get back on track.
Support their need for time off.
Employees are taking less time this year than ever, just when they might need it most. Now is the time to remind your team to unplug when they need to, taking the day off or even the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s if your business can handle it. While they might not be traveling this season, the mental health break of disconnecting to re-energize can help them return refreshed and more creative and resilient.
Help them recharge every day.
Of course, time off is one thing, but it can’t replace the daily balance they need. Institute an “after-hours” policy that encourages team leaders to avoid calling or emailing colleagues after regular business hours so they don’t feel obligated to respond. Send out links to a meditation app to help them practice mindfulness, a habit that has been linked to lower stress. And remind them that sufficient sleep is key to a better outlook and performance.
Remind them what they can do.
Most of us are feeling a sense of loss this holiday season, especially if we are missing out on cherished holiday traditions or time with family and friends. But the good news is that there are lots of things they can still do—check out this article on some fun swaps for typical holiday activities.
You’re less likely to feel sorry for yourself when you’re thinking about someone else. Help your team enjoy the benefits of “other” thinking by organizing a mini holiday campaign. Adopt a family and send out a wish list where they can send holiday gifts and treats, or find a local senior center or children’s hospital that could use some good cheer and form a letter-writing committee. Your employees’ families can even get in on the fun if they want, with kids designing cards or coloring pictures.
Look ahead to the future.
We hate to be the ones to say it, but January 2 might be extra rough on some people. That’s because we’ve spent the last couple of months saying how we can’t wait for 2020 to be over. Unfortunately, the virus doesn’t have a calendar, and there will no magic taking place at the stroke of midnight 2021 to make this be a distant memory. But there is good news on the horizon as treatments improve and a vaccine works its way to the general public. Invite your team to think ahead to what they want to do as things gradually open up and create a “time capsule” of wishes for next holiday season. Have them write and send an email, then print them out and save them for November 2021 when hopefully we will be able to do many of those things. You can even suggest they write something that’s a daytime activity and designate a day in December 2021 that’s “wish fulfillment” day for the team.
Advise them of the benefits they can (and should) access.
From their physical health to their mental well-being, employees might need to rely on their benefits now more than ever. As the end of the year rolls around, take the time to send them a quick update of some of the resources you have available, whether it’s free flu shots or telehealth appointments for mental health. And if you changed out some of the benefits they used to have for new COVID-friendly ones, be sure to remind them. Let them know you’re available if they want to come to you to find out more about their short-term or long-term disability, in case the stress is taking an unexpected toll on them.
And finally remember that all these suggestions apply to you, too. Sometimes HR is so busy taking care of everyone else that your needs aren’t front and center. But, a recent eye-opening survey revealed that more than 70% of HR professionals cited this as the most stressful year of their career. So, be sure to take care of yourself this season too.