How to look after your wellbeing at work during the festive season

How to look after your wellbeing at work during the festive season

Nabs’ principal business psychologist shares ways to protect and support both your and your team’s mental health during “the seasonal squeeze”.

The year might be winding down, but as ever in our industry, the pace continues.

The added pressure of getting work over the line before everyone goes on holiday; the merry-go-round of Christmas parties and drinks to attend with clients and colleagues. And that’s just a snapshot of the busyness at work.

Add in commitments at home, whether that’s attending your kids’ plays, doing the shopping or getting the house ready for family to stay over the break, and you’ve got quite a lot to handle.

It’s a time of high pressure, and as our research report All Ears tells us, it’s at these times that mental wellness drops down the agenda. But in fact, you need to prioritise your mental wellness — and that of your teams — to get through this busy season.

Taking care of yourself

Wellbeing at work needs to be top of the to-do list. In fact, as All Ears goes on to say, mental wellness needs to be viewed as the thread that runs through everything. That very much includes the festive season.

Do what you can to give yourself mental space and support, and you’ll be more likely to be in the right state of mind to handle Christmas season challenges.

One in three unable to talk about mental wellness

Start by identifying where you’re feeling most stressed or pressurised. Ask yourself — what is it I most need in this situation? That’s the question that we always ask people calling the NABS Support Team for guidance when they’re experiencing a challenge.

You may feel overworked — lots of us are at this point of time. While it would be great to say, ask your manager for help easing the burden, we all know that this doesn’t always reflect reality for whatever reason.

In which case, it’s a question of asking how you can best support your mental wellness through a period of overwork and pressure. There are things you can do — things that seem quite simple, but are easy to overlook when the deadlines are fierce.

Make a point of stepping away from your desk for five minutes at a time. Start your day with a walk outside to get some fresh air and sunlight. Remember to connect with your colleagues — they are probably feeling the same way, and getting together to talk can be a tonic.

Embedding wellness into working practices

You’ll likely be dealing with a busy and stressed-out team to manage. Supporting their mental wellness can seem like an extra challenge.

However, when you embed mental wellness into your working practices, helping your team to get through the next few weeks becomes a simpler task.

Try to avoid arranging back-to-back meetings. Make sure that your team get outside for a walk. Encourage walking meetings where possible to facilitate this. Give permission for your team to have some thinking time, some breathing space, where they can mentally regroup.

‘Triage not treatment’: how managers can improve mental wellness, with Sue Todd and James Appleby

Crucially, listen to your team on a one-to-one basis. They may be affected by the seasonal squeeze in different ways. When you understand what might be challenging them, you can work out what to do — for example signposting to NABS for further support.

Take a more open approach to holiday parties

We’re a sociable industry, and the season is filled with invitations to parties and drinks evenings. You may feel the pressure to attend each and everyone. Ask yourself if that’s really necessary; burning the candle at both ends won’t help you to thrive, unless you happen to be super sociable.

When it comes to asking your team to attend parties, make sure that you do so with inclusion in mind. There will be people who can’t attend evening dos because of family or caring commitments. There will be people who don’t drink alcohol, or who find social gatherings generally overwhelming. Pressuring people into attending parties when they can’t harms their mental wellness, so take a more open approach.

For those who are happy to be out on the party circuit, make sure they’re aware of the problem of sexual harassment in our industry. TimeTo, of which NABS is a founding partner, has done a lot of work around this, so there are plenty of resources for you to help here including this recent article. Share our Code of Conduct with your organisation and make clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in any situation. You and your staff deserve to be safe wherever and however you’re celebrating.

Finally — take time to reflect on your achievements this year. What are you proud of? Celebrating what’s gone well can energise you and set you up for a successful next year ahead. Taking stock is a positive way to go into the festive break and beyond, so go ahead, congratulate yourself, and enjoy your celebrations.

Uzma Afridi, principal business psychologist at NABS.

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