Help Your Staff Beat the Back to Work Blues

Dec-BackToWork-imageIt’s a new year, a new beginning. We’re feeling refreshed after a season of holiday cheer and celebrating with family and friends. Maybe some of us ate and drank a little too much. And maybe we spent our entire year-end bonus on presents that the kids are already tired of playing with. But we all feel rested and recharged after some much needed time off, and we’re anxious to get back to work. Right?

That may be true for a few, but returning to the work after the joys of Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Festivus, and New Year’s Eve can be a real let down for many.


Holiday Stress and Anxiety

A recent survey conducted by Appreciation at Work found that a growing number of employees consider the holiday season more trouble than it’s worth. They cite increased traffic, expense, pressure to complete end-of-year work tasks, and holiday work events among the top reasons to dread the most wonderful time of the year.

Another survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association, found that 56% of respondents felt an increase in work-related stress during the holidays. Those surveyed blamed low salaries and lack of advancement opportunities as factors most likely to contribute to increasing stress levels.

However, despite the anxiety that many experience during the holiday season, the majority of employees do look forward to time away from work at the end of the year.


Facing the New Year

Returning to work after time off, whatever the season, is always tough. Days spent celebrating with friends and family are suddenly replaced with days of email, ringing phones, and an impossibly long to-do list. But time off during the holiday season seems to compound the problems. We enjoy being with loved ones, but the hustle and bustle of the season doesn’t leave much time to relax and recharge. Exercise often goes out the window. We eat too much, drink too much, and sleep too little. Instead of returning to work refreshed, we’re often more tired than before we left.

And all the excitement of the holidays is gone, leaving us with nothing but January and the dark, cold winter ahead.


But You Can Help Your Employees Get Back Into the Routine

Want to help your employees beat the post holiday blues?

  • Allow your employees time to ease back into the routine. Hold off on big meetings or project kick-offs for the first few days of the new year, and give them time to catch up on emails, phone calls, and leftover loose ends.
  • Provide something fun for employees to look forward to, like a team breakfast or lunch.
  • Encourage new habits for the new year, such as regular stretching.
  • Set new goals with your staff. Help them focus on opportunities in the year ahead, rather than just working to clear their email inboxes.


Now might be a good time to think about preparing for the next holiday season. Here’s a tip: Employers who don’t force holiday cheer and who give their staff the time needed to both complete work requirements and enjoy time away are typically rewarded with a happier, less stressed, more appreciative team.

Depressed about the Holidays? Maybe You Have the Holiday Blues

Depressed about the Holidays? Maybe You Have the Holiday Blues

You can’t wait to see your family. You’ll return to the home you grew up in. You’ll eat well. You may have an extra glass of wine because you can sleep in. Sounds a bit like heaven. You’ve even purchased some special gifts for each family member. Nonetheless, you feel a sense of dread. You can’t put your finger on why. Perhaps you  have a case of the holiday blues.

What Are the Holiday Blues?

The holiday blues are any number of feelings such as anxiety, depression, stress, or apathy. Their roots may be buried in a variety of sources, some which you may not even be fully conscious of.

Being part of the holidays usually means you’ll be interacting with family and friends. And when you watch your friends and family interact, sometimes this observation creates an odd dynamic, which accentuates what has changed in everyone’s life and what has not. Indescribable emotions are created.

You think that you should be at the height of happiness, but you are not.

Causes of the Holiday Blues

Potential causes of the holiday blues are far ranging. Here are some of the more common ones.

Disruption in Sleep Patterns

One thing that tends to increase depression and anxiety is poor sleep. During the holidays, folks tend to stay up later, which leaves them feeling tired the next day.

Doing Too Much in a Day

Last minute shopping. Visiting both sides of the family. Leaving late and trying to make up time on the road. Frustration and panic can result.

That Extra Glass of Alcohol

Celebrations often come with alcohol consumption. Over consumption leaves you feeling lousy the entire next day.

Guilt from Overeating

That gigantic piece of cake you normally would stay away from seems easier to eat during the holiday. Guilt can play a role in the holiday blues.

Unrealistic Expectations About Our Family

We love our families, which often leads us to overlook some of their shortcomings. We are often reminded of those shortcomings during holiday get-togethers.

No “Me” Time 

There is so much to do, so many people to see, that we often forget to take a break, be by ourselves for a moment and just empty our thoughts.

Methods to Ease the Burden of the Holiday Blues

In the midst of the holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in emotions. However, a little preparation will help you  identify the onset of emotions. To prepare, try the following:

Find Similarities

Look for similarities between you and Uncle Otis. You may be surprised how delightful Otis is when he is discussing his goldfish. If you maintain grievances, you bottle up all types of negative thoughts.

Just Say No

Know your limits and your boundaries. Don’t participate in every single holiday activity. Prioritize them and attend the ones you ranked the highest.

Maintain Healthy Habits

Keep your sleep patterns intact. Say no to that extra wine and those cupcakes. Avoiding guilt is avoiding the stress guilt causes.

Take a Time Out

Restore inner calm by stepping away from the action for 10-15 minutes. This will reduce stress and refresh your mind.

Allow Yourself to Feel

There is nothing inherently wrong with feeling a bit down. You don’t need to fight “negative” emotions. Forcing feelings can backfire on you. There is no reason you “should” always feel happy and thankful, especially during high-stress holidays.

If the Sun Comes Out, You Go Out

Twenty minutes of sunlight does wonders for the blues. Combine exposure with a brisk walk and these activities will combat many causes for your holiday blues.

No Facebook

Remember that Facebook typically highlights the good in people’s lives. It’s easy to forget this when looking at someone’s New Year’s Eve pictures from Jamaica.

You can’t compete with these human highlight reels. If you need to connect with someone then call them. One phone call to a good friend beats photos of people you barely know living it up at a vacation resort that you can’t even afford.

You Are in Charge of Your Feelings

If you feel the holiday blues coming on, remember: How you react to your feelings is entirely within your control. Sure, there may be some negative feelings, but those will dissipate if you concentrate on what there is to be thankful for this holiday season.