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Carreer Junction by Michele Majul-IbarraHow to avoid a blue Christmas

by Michele Majul-Ibarra

Tis the season once again! The holiday season is undoubtedly the most wonderful time of the year for many of us who look forward to it. Sometimes, depending on the situation we’re in, we may anticipate the holidays with dread and anxiety.

In 2014, Virgin Pulse, a market leader in employee health engagement released a study called “Tis the season for stress” featuring participation from 1,000 individuals from the United States and Canada. The study found 70 per cent of employees are significantly more stressed during the holidays. The data indicated that more than 10 per cent of those respondents said they are between 60 and 100 per cent more stressed.

Well, it is now December and in the midst of our preparations, we need to be mindful of the possibility of being at risk for stress. Let’s face it; we wear different hats in our lives. We are workers, spouses, parents, caregivers, and even volunteers in our community. With this in mind, stress can be unavoidable and maintaining control over deadlines and personal responsibilities may seem nearly impossible. The good news is there are some ways to help relieve the stress.

Work hard but don’t play too hard

There is nothing wrong with the usual obligatory family gatherings, however, an overabundance of get together parties may lead to stress for some people. Particularly for those who struggle with finances, finding affordable gifts can be a stressful exercise already, how much more so if you commit to many gift-giving gatherings? Carrying unmanageable debt may unwittingly bring on unnecessary stress in the New Year. In addition, partying too hard may lead to feelings of guilt and worry as a result of overindulgence. Also, over-committing to many holiday invitations may lead you to missing out on important family time.


A company called TSheets conducted a study in 2018 regarding how many days of paid time off employees are earning and how much time off they are not taking. They found that approximately 573 million vacation days go unused. The study has also found a link between unused vacation and cardiovascular health. Women who allow six or more years to pass between vacations are eight times more likely to develop heart disease, while men who skip their annual vacation have a 32 per cent greater risk of dying of a heart attack. In addition, usage of time off can decrease mental and emotional stress, which in turn can decrease physiological impacts like muscle tension and body aches. While it can understandably be difficult to take time off during the holidays for some people, it is important to make an attempt to do so. Work will always be there when you return to your desk or your workstation. No one wants to be stressed from an illness; it’s just not worth it.

Squeeze in some exercise

Exercise is a well-known natural treatment for stress because it pumps up the endorphins, according to the Mayo Clinic. Endorphins are the hormones responsible for producing the brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters. While it may not seem to be a lot, a 30-minute walk at lunch break is actually considered good exercise, as it not only gets the body moving, it can also help reduce feelings of stress.

While it may be difficult to manage stress during this busy time, taking appropriate measures to alleviate some of the stress may even help avoid carrying over the holiday pressures into the New Year.



This article is intended for information purposes only and not to be considered as professional advice.

Michele Majul-Ibarra, IPMA-ACP is an Advanced Certified HR Professional with the International Personnel Management Association.

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