Occupational anxiety, or anxiety triggered at or because of work, is raging — and for many there is a mounting feeling of dread as the festive season approaches.
Business coach Sean Redmond said that it’s the millennials, workers in their 20s and early 30s, that are most struggling with anxiety at this time of year. “They are significantly more stressed and anxious than older workers,” he said.
The American Psychological Association recently found that 36 percent of millennials reported increased stress in the past year and more than half lay awake at night because of stress.
“Many struggle with the hype that surrounds Christmas,” Redmond said. “Work is busy and extra things like office Secret Santa draws and work Christmas parties, as well as preparation for holidays, make this a high-pressure time of year. Then there’s the financial stress. Millennials are chronically stressed about money and living debt-free. Money has been paid out from all directions and there is a lot of anxiety around waiting on end of year performance reviews and bonuses.”
Redmond said holidays can also be a contentious point. “Not many people want to work on Christmas Day and it’s reasonable to expect to take time off at this time of year. But not everyone gets the holidays they want. Newcomers to the office might suffer in the holiday stakes; friends could be given priority in taking leave, or often, seniority impacts who gets to spend Christmas Day with their family. Being expected to work during the holidays often causes conflict at home when other family members do not understand the office ‘policies and politics’.”
Office Christmas parties also can cause stress.
“Staff Christmas parties are seen as the company’s way of providing a fun, relaxing time for staff — but not everyone enjoys parties or even socializing with work colleagues. Many dread the Christmas party season. But you risk being seen as not a team player if you don’t attend such gatherings. With the long working hours leading up to holidays, stress levels peak, often increasing conflict at work. Throw alcohol into the mix and look out!”
Redmond suggests the following tips to help reduce work anxiety during the Christmas season:
- Party at your own pace.
You don’t have to be the life of the party at every Christmas event. It’s perfectly fine to people-watch or be a bit of a wallflower. It may be better to turn up rather than shun the event altogether.
- Confide in a colleague.
Share your anxiety with a co-worker and agree to support each other at those sometimes-dreaded work events.
- Creative holidays.
If you’re not given the leave you requested, consider asking for leave without pay or taking the Monday and Friday off during the Christmas period and creating four-day weekends for yourself.
- Learn to say no.
You don’t have to do everything. If the Secret Santa draw terrifies you, it’s OK to opt out.
- Don’t overdo the alcohol.Mixing anxiety and stress with alcohol only makes things worse — especially at this time of year when the booze is everywhere.
For more information about avoiding Christmas anxiety at work visit www.tsredmond.com
Stressed guy photo available from Shutterstock