Christmas is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, and a time when we get together with friends, family and colleagues to celebrate, have fun and enjoy the festivities. Yet preparing to wrap up the year at work with a nice tidy bow can often see us working harder, longer hours, and to meet tight deadline — all adding to the stress that we can face at this time of year.
The lead-up to Christmas is hugely busy and can leave us exhausted, stressed, and in much-need of that all-important rest — even if it’s just for a day or two. With looming deadlines and targets, as well as personal pressures such as the financial worry of buying presents and stress of organising family events, individuals can no doubt feel the pressure.
‘Christmas Blues’ is a popular term to describe the feeling of depression during the holiday season, which is particularly common amongst those who are alone—without family, friends—or otherwise detached from celebrations.
This depressed feeling can be more common after Christmas has been and gone, and when things start to get back to normal. But it can happen in the run-up to the festive period too, with some of the common causes including:
- Finances | Christmas is indeed wonderful, but it’s also one of the most expensive times of the year. Financial worry can impact people throughout the year of course, but with the stress of buying presents, dishing out on more food and treats than usual, and a greater number of social events in the calendars, the funds between payday can be much harder to balance.
- Stress | Overworking yourself in your job is easily done, especially because for many, there are fewer working days in the month of December. Looming deadlines, planning in advance for work to kick-off in January, and making sure you get through your workload in time can all add to the pressure. Add to that your personal life becoming a little more hectic than usual, such as keeping your children happy and entertained, family gatherings to organise, shopping to buy, and making sure lonely, vulnerable or grieving relatives feel loved and looked after, stress levels can mount up.
- Loneliness | Over 9million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely according to the British Red Cross and the Co-op. Particularly for those without a big family or friends, Christmas and New Year can be a very lonely time. And the impact of loneliness and social isolation on an individual’s health and wellbeing shouldn’t go unnoticed either – it’s said to be worse than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.
- Grief | Linking to loneliness, grief can be worsened at Christmas and New Year at a time when surrounding people will be gathering together with their loved ones. Not only this, but family members of grieving and lonely individuals might be faced with the challenge of not being able to spend as much time with them as they’d like to.
These are just a few of the reasons why stress is elevated during Christmas, but the following simple steps can help to ensure you fully enjoy and embrace the festivities, both at work and at home.
- Plan Your Finances | If you’re worried about the impact of Christmas on your finances, it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself. Planning your finances ahead of time and working out your incomings and outgoings throughout December and January is a must if you’re looking to relieve some of the financial burden and stress you might face. And, we’ll be creating a blog in the New Year which will offer some useful top tips and tricks to balance finances throughout the year, so do keep your eyes peeled!
- Do Things You Love | If you’re finding your higher workload to be a drain on your energy and motivation, why not focus on things you love doing or that makes you feel warm and lovely. Whether it’s volunteering to help the more vulnerable in society, or working with your colleagues to raise funds via a Christmas jumper day, it’s the small things that will relieve your stress and help you to focus on what’s really important!
- Sleep Well | A lack of sleep can make you feel irritable, groggy and even more prone to stress. Make sure you take the time to look after yourself, and plan to get between 7 and 9 hours sleep – which is the optimum amount for an adult. If you haven’t read it yet, do look at our guide to a restful night’s sleep here.
- Get Moving | There is no specific ‘cure’ for stress but it can be relieved by many things, one of the main things being exercise. It releases feel-good endorphins and helps to raise your spirits, and even if you’re stacked out at work it can be beneficial – a good lunchtime walk can boost your productivity in the afternoons!
If you’re a Paycare Policyholder feeling particularly down this Christmas and it doesn’t feel ‘normal’ to you, please do make use of Paycare’s confidential Counselling Helpline, which allows you to speak to a qualified counsellor at any time. From debts support, bereavement counselling and even just a friendly voice at the end of the phone – we’re here for you. Find out more here.