December 1, 2022

How to survive (and thrive) this festive period

December 1, 2022
Jazz Croft
Science Writer

December is upon us, the holidays are fast approaching and even Lindsay Lohan is excited about it this year. Whether gift lists, company parties and family reunions fill you with joy or dread (or a bit of both) it’s no question that the end of the year can bring some challenges. 

The fact that ‘Permacrisis’ made The Collins Dictionary's word of the year suggests this holiday season may bring more challenges than usual. While we can’t solve the problems we see on the news, there are ways we can support ourselves, colleagues, and loved ones that bit more while we navigate the ‘most wonderful’ time of the year.

Let’s start with the other F-word: financial wellbeing

It’s not just your imagination, advertisers have been urging us to spend on festivities even earlier than previous years. Between Black Friday deals, rising interest rates and secret Santas, many of us will be feeling the pressure to spend more than we can manage. Worryingly, 40% of people in the UK feel they can’t afford a ‘proper’ Christmas. What’s more, we know feelings of sustained stress that can come from money worries impair decision-making and make us more prone to quick fixes, using unhealthy habits to cope. 

This can lead to a negative cycle of denial, shame and quick decisions that may be damaging in the long-term – like bad budgeting or taking on high-interest debt. Whether it’s getting practical with a budget for gifts, making a plan to tackle debt or being open about money worries with a loved one, there are plenty of ways to break the cycle and feel equipped to handle finances this winter. 

For more info on finances and wellbeing, you can watch the recordings of our global event series, Money Talks, across EMEA, APAC, and North America.

Get preventative about mental health challenges

Studies have shown that overall wellbeing dips in the run-up to and during Christmas. Festivities are also linked to a spike in seeking medical help for mental health difficulties. Last Christmas, wellbeing dropped to levels seen during lockdown. All of this evidence points to just why paying attention to our wellbeing at this time of year is so important. 

While there’s always early intervention and support for those experiencing challenges, we should also think about proactive and preventative measures to boost our wellbeing. But what does that look like in practice?

First off, we can all figure out our limits on how much we can take on this season. Our levels of energy, time and finances are finite. Understanding we’re not superhuman means being realistic about commitments so we don’t get overwhelmed by Christmas pressure.

While that may seem easier said than done, breathing exercises and paying attention to your mood can help monitor any rising feelings of stress. Building the habit of regularly checking in on how you’re feeling is a proactive way to help manage challenges. 

If you have access to Unmind, now’s a great time to dip in and explore all our resources that can help you feel equipped for the season ahead.

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, you’ll find a range of helpful Courses and exercises in the app or on the platform. Our recent scientific trials show that our short courses targeting low mood, sleep and feelings of anxiety significantly improved our users’ wellbeing with long-lasting effects. 

Stay connected across the holiday season

Making time for loved ones can be a highlight of the festive period, but can also bring up unexpected emotions, last-minute stresses and uncomfortable conversations around the dinner table. Politics and religion, anyone?

Along with finances, this time of year can bring up another taboo: loneliness. 45% of people of all ages feel lonely at least occasionally, and the negative impact on our health is on a par with smoking and obesity. Yet we rarely talk about it. 

If you’re experiencing these feelings or are worried that someone in your network is, reaching out may seem scary but could be life-changing. Whether it’s a text to someone you haven’t heard from for a while or taking up an offer for a coffee you were hesitant about, making connections can really help.

The Unmind platform is full of tools to check in with your emotions as well help nurture and engage fully in your relationships.

How managers can help their people flourish through the festivities 

Nurturing professional relationships is also important. The end of the year can be chaotic at work. Projects may slow down, budgets need sorting and it may feel harder to get time with your team. 

While this time of year may feel like it’s coming round too quickly (“How on earth is it [insert your own date] already?”) reflecting on how to adapt to changing timelines and managing change transparently is a proactive step for effective leadership. Not only does good communication help workflow, it also has a positive impact on employee mental health and productivity.  

Amid the noise, we know that the holiday season could bring greater personal difficulties for you or your team members. So look out for signs of excessive stress or poor mental health in your team. Regularly checking in with them can foster good relationships, which will help to create a culture where people feel safe talking about difficult subjects. 

Give Unmind

As you think about what to give people over the holidays, remember Unmind users can give a friend or family member free access to the platform. One less thing for you to worry about. One potentially life-enhancing gift in the bag.  

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