Health and Safety ReportVolume 11, Issue 12

On Topic

Don't Let Stress And Depression Derail Your Holidaysprint this article

The holidays can be a special time of year, with lots of socializing, family gatherings, and time honoured traditions. However for some, the financial, emotional and physical demands of the season can be stressful, cause anxiety, and even trigger depression.

The pressure to create the perfect holiday and the seemingly endless "to do" list - shopping, cleaning, cooking and entertaining - can be overwhelming. Being realistic, planning ahead and asking for support can help prevent stress and depression from derailing your holiday.

Here are some tips to help you cope with the stress and anxieties of the season and enjoy the holiday festivities.

Be realistic about your expectations for the holidays and what you can accomplish. In your efforts to create the perfect holiday you can take on too much and end up feeling overwhelmed. As your family changes and grows, you may have to be flexible with some of your traditions and be open to creating new ones, such as holding your family feast on a different day to accommodate your adult children.

Plan and pre-empt stress. Get organized by planning your menus and making shopping and "to do" lists well ahead of time. Designate specific days for shopping, cleaning, baking, visiting friends and other activities to avoid last minute rushing around.

Stay on track with your budget. Decide how much money you can afford to spend before you go shopping. If you overspend now, it could create financial worries for months to come. If money is tight, consider creative alternatives for gift giving such as donating to a charity in someone's name, buying for the kids only, giving homemade gifts or drawing names to reduce the number of gifts you have to give.

Ask for help. Don't think you have to go it alone when you are entertaining. To ease the load, invite your friends and family to bring a dish or a dessert. Make sure to get help with the party clean up. Many hands lighten the load.

Don't fret the family. Emotions often run high during the holidays and family conflicts can intensify - especially if you're in close quarters for several days. Try to get enough sleep to help you cope with any potential tensions and avoid experiencing feelings of depression, irritability, and frustration. If spending time with family is stressful for you, limit the amount you spend with them. Be sensitive to others who may also be feeling the stress and depression of the holidays.

Reach out. Spending the holidays alone can be hard and may leave you feeling lonely and sad, with a sense of being disconnected. Make an effort to spend some time with a friend, or connect with a friend or your family by phone. Find community, religious or other social events to attend that can provide good opportunities for you to talk with and meet new people.

Volunteer. Lend a hand and lift your spirits. Food banks and other charitable organizations often need extra help this time of year and volunteering is a good way to meet new friends while helping those in need.

Get real with your feelings. If you have recently lost someone close to you or you are missing loved ones, it's normal to feel sadness and grief. Allow yourself to feel and express any emotions you may experience during the holiday season.

Maintain your healthy habits. How well you take care of yourself will have a big impact on how you manage emotionally. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.

Resist the urge to overdo holiday food and alcoholic drinks which will likely only add to your stress and guilt. Try eating a healthy snack or some soup before the holiday gatherings to take the edge off your hunger. It may help prevent you from going overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.

During the holidays it can be tempting to overuse alcohol and other substances to help you relax. If you have a substance use problem, all of the socializing and the alcoholic drinks that accompany them can make this a particularly difficult time. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has put together some low risk drinking guidelines to help.

Relax and recharge. When you are exhausted, you get run down and increase your risk for stress. Take care of yourself by carving out some down time each day to do something you enjoy that will help you clear your mind and relax. Even a few minutes of time for yourself can help refresh and calm you. Take a walk, listen to calming music, watch a holiday movie or delve into a good book. Taking control of your time helps you feel empowered and can help prevent you from feeling melancholy.

Get professional help if you are continually

  • feeling sad or anxious;

  • physically ill;

  • unable to sleep;

  • feeling irritable and hopeless, and can't face your daily tasks.

Contact your doctor or visit your local hospital emergency room - especially if these feelings last for a while.
With a plan and a strategy for coping with the challenges of the holiday season you can replace stress and distress with fun and festivities.

Other holiday tips

Tips & Tools

Winter Driving Tipsprint this article

As if driving wasn't perilous enough at the best of times, welcome to another season of winter roads. You can't control the weather, but you can adjust to it by preparing yourself and your vehicle for the worst of winter and the white stuff, and ensuring you stay safe. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offers the following safety tips for winter drivers.

Prepare your vehicle. Keeping your vehicle in good technical repair reduces the chances of a mishap or disaster. Have your electrical, exhaust, heating/cooling, fuel and braking system thoroughly checked. Make sure the vehicle is equipped with snow tires and ensure windshield wipers are in good condition. When winter hits, protect yourself from carbon monoxide exposure by keeping the exhaust pipe clear of snow and checking the system for leaks. Don't let the fuel level get too low, and always keep an extra container of antifreeze - rated for the coldest temperatures - in your vehicle.

Pack a winter driving kit. Winter driving is less stressful when you're equipped for the worst. Your winter driving kit should include a bag of sand, salt or kitty litter, traction mats, a snow shovel, a snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices such as flares or a "Call Police" sign, and fuel line de-icer. Also, in case you're ever stranded in a cold vehicle, keep a blanket and extra clothing on hand, including a hat, wind-proof pants, gloves and warm footwear, as well as snacks, water, and the usual drivers' aids - first aid kit, roadmaps, and booster cables.

In the event that you ever get stuck or stranded in the snow, there's no need to panic, especially if you have properly prepared. Turn on flashing lights, bundle up, run the car engine about 10 minutes every hour to provide heat, and stay awake. (Make sure your exhaust pipe is not blocked.) An unheated car can be like an icebox, so focus on staying warm and dry.

Get ready for the road. Plan before heading out. Decide on your travel route in advance and then check the road and weather conditions for that route. Avoid driving if you are fatigued. Allow plenty of time for your journey, and let someone know where you'll be travelling and when you expect to arrive.

Visibility is key to safety on the road, so take the time to warm up your vehicle to reduce condensation on the windows, and remove any snow and ice that may reduce your visibility. Don't forget your cell phone, if you have one, and your sunglasses.

Dress warmly and comfortably, but if you decide to add or remove a layer, don't do it while driving - pull over and stop the vehicle.

Drive carefully. It's important to drive safely and responsibly in any weather, but the winter requires extra caution. That means slower driving, heightened alertness, and twice the stopping distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Slow down when approaching a bridge, because it could be icy even when the roads are not.

You can survive the winter drive!

Winter driving tips fact sheet, OSH Answers

Health and Safety To Go

Year End Reflections and Holiday Hazardsprint this article

This month's Health and Safety To Go! podcasts feature feature CCOHS President and CEO Steve Horvath's holiday message, and tips on holiday hazards and how to stay safe this season.

CCOHS' Holiday Message

Steve Horvath, President and CEO at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety delivers a holiday message and shares his thoughts and reflections of the past year.

The podcast runs 15:07 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.

Holiday Hazards

Did you know your holiday lights, trees and decorations are potential hazards? CCOHS wants to keep you safe and healthy this season, so listen to these tips on holiday hazards.

The podcast runs 4:08 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.

CCOHS produces free monthly podcasts on a wide variety of topics designed to keep you current with information, tips, and insights into the health, safety, and well-being of working Canadians. You can download the audio segment to your computer or MP3 player and listen to it at your own convenience... or on the go!

See the complete list of of podcast topics. Better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes and don't miss a single episode.


Don't Let Safety Slipprint this article

Falls can happen in an instant, whether from a trip over a loose piece of carpeting or a slip on an icy step. More than 42,000 Canadians are injured in work-related falls each year, representing about 17% of lost-time injuries across the country. You may be surprised to learn that most falls don't happen from roofs, ladders, or any other heights. In fact, around sixty-six percent of falls happen on the same level, caused by slips and trips.

CCOHS has released a poster to help prevent slips, trips and falls at work. This awareness poster is packed with practical tips such as make sure to wear proper footwear; practice good housekeeping; check your flooring; and, watch out for potential hazards to reduce the risk of injuries.

This poster is printed double-sided, with English on one side and French on the other, and is available as a free download, or for sale in print. Poster prices will increase effective December 25, 2013, so order beforehand to save.

Download the poster.

CCOHS Resources

Preventing Falls from Slips and Trips e-course

Prevention of Slips, Trips and Falls OSH Answers fact sheet

Office Ergonomics Safety Guide

Workplace Health & Safety Matters

On the Road to Safetyprint this article

Workplace Health and Safety Matters is the blog of Steve Horvath, President and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Over the past month Steve has engaged with several diverse groups that represent occupational health and safety and prevention in Canada. In a recent blog post, Steve shared his thoughts and insights from his travels and meetings.

During the past two weeks, it has been my privilege to connect with several diverse groups that represent the ever widening scope of occupational health and safety and prevention in Canada. It is always heartening to hear and share in the accomplishments of other organizations, and to understand how CCOHS can actively contribute to their successes. In this case, the organizations included the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), Parachute Canada’s Symposium, the ILO/CIS Network, and the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers (CSSE).

First, I spoke with ESFI about CCOHS’ view of electrical safety issues from a national perspective, what the statistics are telling us, and the unique nature of the electrical industry, which has seen increases in injury rates. Interestingly, Canadian statistics show that the vast majority of injuries to electrical workers are not related to shock or electricity, whereas the majority of electricity-related injuries and fatalities occur to non-electrical personnel. Addressing these statistics was a great source of discussion, as well as the steps towards a culture of prevention of these injuries.

My workshop presentation at the Parachute Canada Symposium was an opportunity for me to hear first-hand not only about the challenges faced by groups dealing with community-based safety and health issues, but also the initiatives they have adopted to cope with these challenges. At the same time, CCOHS was able to provide a workplace perspective on how community and domestic issues are increasingly intertwined with people’s work lives. Again, some prevention strategies were shared.

My meeting with CSSE in Edmonton was a very open and frank discussion about new issues facing the safety profession and some progressive solutions to address both the legacy issues that continue to impact injury rates, and the new generation of hazards requiring our attention. It was also an opportunity to discuss Alberta statistics against national and other provincial numbers, dealing with these issues from the perspective of a clear leadership and communication strategy, and the integration of prevention principles with business planning processes.

Read Steve's blog, Workplace Health and Safety Matters.

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