Risks to health during the festive season

Christmas stress

Photo by coljay72

So, Christmas is nearly upon us. The season of goodwill…or a period of increased stress? A time for charity and giving…or for feeling pressured to supply the perfect gifts for everyone? A time for happy families to enjoy the festive season together…or a time to be sad about what we haven’t got, or about people who are missing from our lives?

For many, the Christmas period can be tinged with sadness or nostalgia, yet there is an expectation on us to be (at least outwardly) full of joy and happiness. Everyone is struggling to juggle work and personal commitments: as lovely as it is to watch our children performing in their school plays, it often means taking time off work at precisely the time of year when we could do with buckling down in order to get through our workload before year end. Then, instead of relaxing at the weekends, many of us find ourselves trying to carve a path through masses of shoppers in pursuit of Christmas present bargains, or over-indulging at Christmas parties when an early night might have been what our body was yearning for.

People are potentially at risk of developing health related issues associated with increased stress levels at this time of year. A permanent or significant increase in blood pressure (hypertension) can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney problems. The pressures of the festive season (especially when combined with a difficult economic climate) can exacerbate stress and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Stress can also be a trigger for migraines or severe headaches.

Employers/managers can help prevent stress at work by being aware of their employees who may be struggling to cope perhaps by:

  • helping employees to prioritise work and setting realistic deadlines helps reduce stress;
  • maintaining an open-door policy so that employees feel confident to discuss issues rather than bottling them up and ‘soldiering on’;
  • saying a proper ‘thank you’ to employees to demonstrate that they are valued and that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed.

For more help with recognising signs of stress or anxiety in your employees, or to get advice on making adjustments to prevent people becoming overwhelmed by stress, call the free Health for Work Adviceline on 0800 0 77 88 44.

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