Tide Ventures

The holiday season is meant to be a time for celebration, good cheer and relaxation, but for many, Christmas is stressful. There are varying reasons as to why the christmas season gets stressful so we are calling upon you to beware so you do not fall into the trap of the Christmas season stress which leaves many too exhausted to plan an effective new year.
In this blog, I’ll talk about how the festive season is likely to increase stress in your life and at work and I’ll recommend ways that we all can take on to avoid or at least manage stress- so that we can have a productive yet enjoyable season.

On a personal level festive season stress is caused by;

1. Festive family work over load- you’ll shop more, cook more, travel more…all this is demanding of your already squeezed time, energy and finances.

2. Too high expectations of yourself or other people, you want to put on your best act to have a memerable experience and to please your family You also want to appear at your best when you join your extended family or go back to your village. You also have expections of how other people should act, how they should treat you and how caring and giving they should be towards you or towards one another.
This places a certain amount of pressure on your, time, energy and finances.

3. Anxiety about family reunions is also a real thing. Expectations from In-Laws, fear that you won’t be able to be yourself around everyone, parents expecting you to still adhere to rules when you’ve been living on your own making your own rules and much more.

Yet, while you are dealing with all these anxieties of family holiday, the workplace is not exempting you from the season’s stress either. In fact, new research shows that December is the most stressful month for workers and this is mainly because;

Now Let’s be clear, with or without the festive season, workplace stress has continued to be a reality the world over.

-In Australia Workplace stress is reported to cost employers around $10.11 billion per year — a figure that’s likely to be conservative, as it doesn’t include run-off costs of re-staffing and re-training due to resultant staff turnover.
-In 2015/16 nearly half a milion people in the UK reported that work-related stress was making them ill.

Stress in the workplace statistics from 2019 keep bearing grim news. A recent study surveyed more than 1,000 US workers, and 80% of them reporting being stressed out because of poor communication practices by their employers.

Unfortunately, there is limited research and focus on work related stress in sub-saharan Africa. However, we continue to witness stress related behavior within individuals in the workplace and in our communities.

• The long commutes that many workers are struggling with
• Meeting the rising cost of living; struggling to make ends meet, workplace stress has only increased.
• People carrying work home with them each day.

Ironically, “There’s an assumption in business that people bring their stress to work each day.
“However, organisations need to realise that work is fast becoming the leading cause of stress and it’s impacting employee relationships, quality of life and well-being.
In fact, workplace safety has in the past focused on the physical protection of employees from harm while at work.

However, each day now sees the line between work and home life thinner and organisations must reset their boundaries and definition of workplace safety. The workplace is no longer just being in office and harm is no longer only physical.

Now, as if all this is not enough…the end of year and the festive season is soon here and the same workers will not escape the push for organizations to meet their annual goals as set at the beginning of the year.

Stress is a major issue at work and has a major impact on business performance. Unfortunately it doesn’t go away at Christmas. One has to deal with all the demands of work while at the same time handling the demands of the festive season.

Juggling home life and year-end work pressures is tough for millions of employees.

1. There is need to balance work responsibilities with a more demanding family life that includes Christmas shopping, travel planning, decoration, and spending time with family.

2. Most colleagues take holidays before the end of the year. In fact, by 18th December, people are in a holiday mood and many take leave to travel around that time. This leave so much pressure on the few workers that stay at work having to carry on with the workload meant to be executed by the full team.
With high demands and last effort to meet the year’s targets, stress is one of those constant conditions in the work place especially during the end of the year season.

3. End year performance review is also another stressor for workers as they await their bosses’ verdict on how worthwhile their contribution is.

All the above conspire to make the last month of the year more about activity than festivity.
To be able to manage stress, you need to be able to identify when you or a colleague is under stress. So what are some of the signs and symptoms showing that you could be experiencing extreme stress?
The signs or symptoms of work-related stress can be physical, psychological and behavioural.

Physical symptoms include:

• Fatigue
• Headaches
• Heart palpitations
• Sleeping difficulties, such as insomnia
• Dermatological disorders.
• Not taking care of physical appearance.

Psychological symptoms include:

• Depression
• Anxiety
• Discouragement
• Irritability
• Pessimism
• Feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope
• Cognitive difficulties, such as a reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions.

Behavioural symptoms include:

• An increase in sick days or absenteeism
• Aggression
• Diminished creativity and initiative
• A drop in work performance
• Problems with interpersonal relationships
• Mood swings and irritability
• Lower tolerance of frustration and impatience
• Disinterest and withdrawal.
• Isolation.

What stresses you?

The most effective way to solve a problem is to deal with its cause. Knowing what exactly brings about your stress gives you the necessary information you need to take action against it or better your situation.
Keeping a work journal where you record the events of your day, what stressed you and how you reacted to it can help you backtrack and find out the root causes of your condition, and further help you assess your response to stressing situations and whether you need to find better responses.
All the following issues have been identified as potential stressors at workplaces. A risk assessment will help to identify which ones exist in your own workplace and what causes them.

They include:

• Bad management practices
• Heavy workload
• Tight deadlines
• Job insecurity
• Physical work environment
• Lack of support
• Role conflict
• Lack of clarity of roles
• Lack of necessary equipment
• Few promotional opportunities
• Harassment
• Poor relationships with colleagues or bosses
• lack of career advancement
• financial constraints,
• insufficient skills for the job,
• Over-supervision/lack of autonomy
• Redundancy at work,
• Monotonous and unchallenging work tasks
• Unclear direction and performance expectations.

Find healthy responses for what stresses you.

Having identified what exactly stresses you, the next step is to figure out realistic and healthy responses to your stressors. People have different ways that they handle stress that could be either healthy or unhealthy. In as much as some unhealthy responses to stressors could be effective, they are often short-lived and produce even more detrimental effects. Knowing the difference between what productive responses to stressors are and what they are not can also help you deal with stress much more effectively.

Healthy Responses

Pace yourself ie whenever possible, start your assignment in good time
• Start your festive seasons activities early- start shopping in October, make all plans and do any necessary bookings as early as June (costs)

Negotiate/Communicate effectively with your supervisors on what assignment you take on. One should have a limit on how much work they accept to take on from other people. Always being the “Yes man” who is always willing to take on more tasks even when it is detrimental to your health puts you in a dangerous situation. It always important to have productive work boundaries and stick to them because it helps one to further go ahead and actually avoid situations that could stress them altogether.

Put in place boundaries and schedule activities clearly:
By not having boundaries one makes themselves prone to stress. Having boundaries for oneself as well as others is very important. For example, one should always have a time limit of when they should keep doing work. They have to think of other aspects of their life such as their family and personal time. Include personal obligations in your overall schedule so you keep them present;

Maintain healthy and positive work relationships:
Dealing with different people from diverse backgrounds can be very tasking and stressful. However, if you learn the art of understanding and dealing with these different people, you are able to reduce any stressors that could result as a result of poor work relationships.
One should always aim at avoiding conflict at the workplace and creating friendly and positive relationships with their workmates. Should one have a misunderstanding with one of their workmates, they should seek to solve the difference as soon as possible.

Identify/Order your priorities; In many cases, stress at a workplace is as a result of the individual work tasks one has to perform. Sometimes, it may not actually be because one has an excessive workload but because they actually do not know how to manage the workload they have effectively.Managing your workload begins with planning how to do it and sticking to that plan. Without a plan in place, one is likely to take longer than they should on the piece of work, multitasking that would lead to mediocre work and fail to anticipate any unforeseen circumstances that could make the whole task fail. Being able to plan and spread one’s work over time enables one to actually perform the tasks according to the organization’s expectations. This also reduces exposure to stress that comes with trying to do too many tasks at a go and in so little time that could have resulted in average or below average work.

Have time for yourself:
I get it, the work you do pays the bills, however, one should never forget they too need time for themselves. Being able to take off breaks in between work or choosing to rest is very helpful. It is not practical and does not make sense for one to keep working as they will not produce the best results.
Taking time off to relax and rest replenishes one’s mind, reduces stress, makes one alert and further enables them to perform better.

• Talk to you Colleagues and Supervisor about the situation:
Should you fail to cope with stress on your own, it is helpful to seek for social support from those that you work with and from your family. Perhaps they contribute to your stressors; letting them know your situation and how it could be detrimental to both you and them can motivate them to help you handle the situation better.

Your colleagues and supervisors could even suggest other healthy measures you could take to deal with the situation.

Do not choose to handle the situation on your own should it get worse. Seek help from others because it could affect them as well.

Seek medical help:
In worst case scenarios, stress can be so negative that one has to seek medical help.
Should you feel that nothing is helping improve the situation, do not be ashamed of visiting a psychiatrist or medical counselor for help.
Waiting for the condition to get worse could just lead to both the loss of your job and life. Treat the condition before it is too late.

Stop competing with anyone- competition, vanity and showing off leads to financial stress. Budget within your means and remember your life, your family, your financial obligations will still be here after christmas.

Exercise to help you relax.
• Taking walks.
• Taking breaks in between work tasks or from the stressful situation.
• Prayer/ Meditation.
• Getting enough sleep.
• Indulging in a healthy hobby.
• Eating healthy meals.
Unhealthy responses
• Drinking excessive alcohol.
• Resorting to drugs.
• Smoking.
• Away matches
• Eating too much junk food or food with too much sugar.

Unhealthy Responses

  • With healthy responses, you can be sure that you will be successful in reducing stress and remain healthy.
    Libby Mullen, learning and development manager at BizLibrary, notes that it’s important to educate employees on stress itself, as “not all stress is a bad thing.” At healthy levels, stress can support productivity and growth. Being able to identify positive and negative stress is the first step in managing it. She adds that providing training to managers in emotional intelligence and communication can help mitigate stressors due to poor management, and training employees in active listening, anger management, communication and conflict resolution can mitigate stressors from co-workers.

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