Happy, Healthy Holidays: In The Workplace!

Candy. Candy as far as the eye can see.

I don’t know about you, but it seems from October 31st through to January 1st there is no escaping the mounds of office candy, baked goods, nights out, and ‘holiday’ lattes that contain more calories than your average Thanksgiving dinner…

On top of this we feel buried under a (snowy) mountain of stress – our workload seems to increase as the amount of time we have to complete tasks diminishes, and it’s no wonder we are tired and stressed, snapping at our colleagues, and feel less like Buddy the Elf and more like the Grinch that stole Christmas…

Understanding that tensions will be high in the workplace over the holiday, and high sugar,  processed holiday foods will be around every corner!

Here are my suggestions for keeping your workplace happy and healthy this holiday season:

Colleague Interactions

Be gentle with yourself and your colleagues – you are all in the same boat! If interactions get strained try to find one positive thing about that person and keep it in mind. Too tough? Politely excuse yourself, drink some water, take some deep breaths and know that the conversation will be more productive when you are calm an receptive.

‘But why aren’t you eating that’?’ Sigh. If I had a dollar for every time I had been asked that question, well, I would have a lot of dollars. My stock response is ‘for my health’. If the line of questioning continues and I feel they are genuinely interested then I will explain a little further (as you never know who you can positively influence and when) but if I feel the conversation is taking an accusatory or derogatory turn then I will politely excuse myself. Typically this reaction is ALL about the other person and nothing to do with you, as it highlights you are willing to make positive change and they lack this power.

‘Other people’s opinions are nothing to do with you.’

Eleanor Roosevelt

Treats As Far As The Eye Can See

Every time I go to offices to present my Corporate Wellness Workshops I am shocked to see the amount of processed and unhealthy snack options on hand for anyone who just happens to be walking past – and that’s not even at the holiday’s!

Firstly, don’t beat your self up for succumbing to the plethora of baked goods and sweet treats at every turn! We are genetically wired to want to eat high sugar, high carb and high fat foods, and we we do succumb its likely not to do with will power but a combination of low blood sugar, boredom, stress and sheer availability.

Here are some ideas to minimize the sweet treat creep:

  • Crowd out the bad with the good: if there is a catered lunch in the office, can this be a healthier option? Can you order a fruit basket or veggie platter to balance out the holiday candy or baked treats?
  • Can you hold a healthier cooking challenge? Holiday oatmeal, veggie chili or healthy appetizer rather than a cookie competition?
  • Could you donate any leftovers to a non-profit close to the office where they will be appreciated?
  • Out of sight, out of mind: decide as a group a place where the treats can be kept that you deliberately have to walk to. Simply changing your access can make a huge difference to how much you will consume.

Celebrate Good Times

Often the office holiday party falls at a time when the last thing you want to be doing is being jovial with your colleagues, eating yet more beige food and having a drink when everyone else is. My advice for this is to get involved in the planning – typically no-one wants to organize the office party, so stepping up and creating an experience that is fun and healthy for all may feel like a breath of fresh air for your office:

Get socially active: can you organize a healthier holiday outing, or arrange an exercise class before the main event? Can you meet your colleagues for a spin class or walking meeting instead of cocktails, or being stuck in a boardroom

Consider an alternative (or additional) to the typical holiday party such as a group volunteering project, warm clothing drive or healthy holiday pot luckwhere you donate dishes to a local shelter. This doesn’t just benefit others, altruism helps raise oxytocin levels, the ‘feel-good’ hormone that lowers cortisol, your stress hormone.

Pick a restaurant that you know will have lighter options: sushi bars, seafood restaurants and even steakhouses will offer protein, fat and veggie based options that you can enjoy without feeling terrible the next day…

Do you have any tips that you’d like to share on keeping your workplace happy and healthy at the holidays, or at any time of the year? Share below!

My team and I are working hard to keep the workforce in Boston and NYC light, bright, energized and productive, and would love to see if we can help you and your team! Click here for more information on our Corporate Wellness Workshops…



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