Mental Wellness During the (Covid-19) Holidays

2020 has really tested how well many organizations address the mental wellness of their employees. Several times this year we have heard that, “now, more than ever, we need to make the mental wellness of our people a priority.” This is even more important as we enter the holiday season.

We are all ready for a break—leaders and employees. Everyone is mentally and physically exhausted as many of our workdays are a grind, we’re just trying to get to the next day, and there is an uncertain end in sight.

In a typical year, most of us are ready for a break by Christmas—the shopping, baking, decorating, meal preparations, gatherings and parties, and financial burden of getting ready for the holidays can be overwhelming. But, this year, there is added stress, anxiety, and sadness. Traditional holiday plans all look different and we are not able to see some of our loved ones because of the risk of passing or contracting Covid-19.

As leaders, it is important to stay mindful of your employees’ feelings and have empathy. It is your job to check in, listen, support, and uplift your employees. Just because we are all ready for a break doesn’t mean you get to stop leading.

Making your employees feel motivated, energized, and appreciated should be a year-round effort, but I am encouraging leaders to take extra initiative over the next few weeks as we enter the holiday season.

Following are some ways you can support your employees this holiday:

Show appreciation

  1. Let your employees know you are grateful for the commitments they have made during a challenging year, especially when (some days) it might have been easier for them to walk away.
  2. Thanking employees and showing recognition might be one of the best gifts you can give.

Embrace holiday spirit

  1. Decorate the office. If your staff are working from home, encourage them to share their holiday decorations and spirit with each other.
  2. Christmas parties will look different this year, but don’t cancel the celebrations altogether. Find a way to adapt—we have been doing it all year so don’t stop now! Maybe it is a virtual magic show or a bingo. Maybe you all make something crafty.

Or, maybe you all agree to donate your Christmas party proceeds to a non-profit/charity, or your team puts together baskets to donate to a children’s charity. (Allow them to do this during work hours.)

  1. Don’t forget about ugly Christmas sweater day, even if your team is working remotely!

Offer flexible work schedules

  1. Heightened stress during the holiday season often results from a lack of time to get everything done. Because of Covid-19, many stores have reduced hours and capacity, which makes it really challenging to get preparations done. Offer your employees extended breaks or reduced hours when possible to alleviate this stress, but don’t forget to communicate the expectations of the work they need to get done. The result? Employees will work harder and be more engaged during the hours they are working, instead of wasting time thinking about all the errands they have to run after work.

A quick note to employees

As an employee, don’t forget to thank and appreciate your leaders and your employer. For many, it has been a stressful year to keep business afloat. Many of us are very fortunate to still have our jobs.

The holidays can impact everyone’s mental wellness differently, let alone during a pandemic. Let’s care for one another, support one another, and remember that everyone’s fight is different.

Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So, for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.”

John Mayer

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