Holiday Cheers & Fears
October 28, 2015
The holiday season is here and with it comes preparation for annual events, finalized budgets and general stress. The latter is a society issue as many strive for the 100% holiday fantasy depicted in movies and projected by media … hey wait a minute, we are part of the continued brainwashing of what the typical Thanksgiving and Christmas are supposed to look like for an American family.
There is a lot of responsibility involved in living up to the "100% perfect" holiday. Around a radio station, it can be the underlying problem for some of the air personalities and the office staff. Some examples: Paid remotes slow down for the jocks; agencies fall behind more than 90 days on paying personal appearance fees; salespersons missing budget and commissions are down; talk of sales accounts being moved around; rumors of layoffs; performance reviews; some of the staff experience problems at home; and the good news of continued employment, but no raise.
There is the radio family, the family at home, and the radio folk with little or no immediate family. Radio stations are a lot like the mailman -- regardless of rain, sleet or snow, the job gets done. The listener/consumer does not know what lies behind some of those cheerful sounds coming out of the radio during the holidays.
As a personality and later as an OM/PD, I became aware of how the holidays transcended like nothing else for the people of broadcasting. It was the time of year when the daily realities of many average listeners reared its head more than usual among the station community. Sometimes the anxieties of several hung in the air and could make life more tense than necessary. Regardless of how many actually were into the holiday feel-good euphoria, the other few could just keep a workplace on edge.
This is the one time of year that I suggest station employees pay extra attention to the emotions and potential personal problems some are experiencing.
When I programmed, I always kept my door open and at one station, the Coke and candy machine happened to be right outside my door. It gave me a chance to observe body language, moods, and sometimes conversations … work-related and personal. Usually before 11am weekdays, I had a feel for what was going on with the majority of the staff. I also would walk the halls … visit briefly with the traffic department, the receptionist and the resident station gossip to keep on top of who might need a little more understanding.
These brief encounters would provide a lot of information. For example, there was one full-time personality who took a part-time job during the holidays; one of the ladies was going through some domestic violence problems, which explained the extra makeup around her eyes some days; and there was a jock who temporarily took in his sister's four kids.
Those in radio are not immune to the stress of the holidays and it can have an effect on the work of all of those around you. I suggest you read this list from the staff of the Mayo Clinic for coping with the holidays:
Tips To Prevent Holiday Stress & Depression
When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.
Acknowledge your feelings: If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's okay to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
Reach out: If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
Be realistic: The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, e-mails or videos.
Set aside differences: Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
Stick to a budget: Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Try these alternatives -- donate to a charity in someone's name; give homemade gifts; and start a family gift exchange.
Plan ahead: Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
Learn to say no: Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
Don't abandon healthy habits: Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Try these suggestions: Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks, get plenty of sleep, and incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
Take a breather: Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Some options may include; taking a walk at night, listening to music, or reading a book.
Seek professional help if you need it: Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Taking the time to understand all things good or bad with the holidays could help with productivity, keep things in perspective with others on the job, and it might even help you on a personal level.