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January 02, 2024

Supporting Employee Wellness During the New Year

The New Year should be a time of joy and motivation, but it can be a time of stress. Help your workers stay happy and healthy by supporting employee wellness after the rush of the holidays and being mindful of the difficulties they may have faced.

Unhealthy Treats Are Everywhere

According to Gallup, around 41% of U.S. adults consider themselves overweight and more than half would like to lose weight.

Weight loss can be challenging any time of the year, but it’s especially difficult during the holiday season, when calorie-laden treats abound. In addition to all the holiday parties and family gatherings, many offices have cookies and other delicious foods on offer during this time of year. Although workers do enjoy the goodies, these treats also lead to stress and undermine weight loss efforts.

Financial Worries Can Lead to Stress

According to PYMTS, the holiday season is a source of financial stress for two-thirds of U.S. consumers.

Many people travel to see family, which costs money. There are also high expectations for gifts. Plus, people may also be tempted to take advantage of holiday sales to buy something for themselves. All these costs add up fast. When budgets are already tight, the extra expenses for the holidays can be overwhelming.

Not Everyone Enjoys the Holidays

For some people, the holidays are a lonely or depressing time. Verywell Mind explains that feelings of sadness during November and December are often called the holiday blues or holiday depression. These feelings may be due to a lack of sleep, overindulgence in food or alcohol, financial stress, isolation, loneliness, or unrealistic expectations.

The holidays can also exacerbate mental health conditions. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people with mental illness say the holidays make their conditions worse. The CDC says mental illness impacts more than one in five U.S. adults, meaning there’s a good chance some of your workers are dealing with this.

Some People Experience SAD

The short days and gloomy weather bring some people down – a phenomenon called the winter blues. For some sufferers, the lack of sunlight can even contribute to depression in a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

According to the American Psychiatric Association, around 5% of the U.S adult population suffers from SAD, but exposure to sunlight and light therapy may improve symptoms.

New Year Best Practices

The New Year can be daunting, but you can support your team’s wellness by keeping the various pressures in mind.

  • Offer healthy food items. Consider stocking the breakroom with healthy treats that will help people avoid all the cookies, cakes, and candies that appear at this time of year. Good options include fresh fruit and vegetable trays or unbuttered popcorn.
  • Encourage exercise. If the weather is keeping people from going out, they may not be exercising as much. Encourage your team to take walks during their breaks and consider holding walking meetings.
  • Take advantage of the sunlight. By the time your employees leave work, the winter sun may have set. Help your workers see sunlight during work hours by opening windows and encouraging outdoor breaks. According to Mayo Clinic, some people may want to install a light box to provide light therapy, but they should talk to their health providers first.
  • Keep activities low stress and low cost. Many offices like to do a gift exchange, which can be a fun way to boost morale and build team spirit. However, gift exchanges can lead to financial stress. If you decide to do a gift exchange, set a narrow and affordable dollar range, and make participation optional.
  • Make your workplace inclusive. Some people may feel excluded because they don’t celebrate the same holidays as everyone else in the office. Keep your celebrations and decorations neutral and inviting to everyone.

When your workers thrive, your company thrives. Your employee benefits also play a significant role in your team’s wellbeing. Heffernan Insurance Brokers offers a wide array of products to support employee health, satisfaction, and financial security. Learn more.

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