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Dealing with stress as festive season nears

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As many of us look forward to winding down for the Christmas break, spare a thought for those in industries which can be more affected by stresses and strains in the lead up to Christmas.

Christmas stresses can be experienced by many workers and their families, but it particularly impacts on construction and mining workers. The lead up to Christmas can also see a spike in workplace injuries for a number of reasons.

Building projects winding down during the Christmas break can cause financial hardship for those living from week to week. While on the flipside, other projects continue through the Christmas period, leading to separation for workers and their families, particularly those who work in Fly in Fly out (FIFO) operations.

Charity MATES in Construction gives some useful advice for workers who may find themselves in a stressful situation in the lead up or during the Christmas/New Year period:

  • Get out and mix with others if you are alone. Linking up with others and getting together to make things happen can be beneficial
  • Do something for others less fortunate by volunteering to help charities / homeless people
  • For the religious, simply attending the local church for Christmas services may help.

Operations manager John Brady reminds workers that they have an essential role in supporting mates who may be doing it tough over this period:

  • If you know this is the first Christmas for a mate without a loved one, or without children due to relationship breakdown, or other stressful events, it’s good to make contact with them to check they are okay
  • Changes in normal behaviour for a mate is also a clue that all is not right with them – once again it’s good to check in with them
  • Trust your gut instinct – if you feel a mate is not doing so well you are probably right – tell them you sense things are not right and see if you can offer support. Sometimes just a chat with a mate can be enough to assure them they are not alone with the difficulties and challenges they may be experiencing.

Claims rise in the lead up to Christmas

WorkCover Queensland Customer Group Executive Melanie Stojanovic said claims for workplace injuries typically rise in the lead up to Christmas.

“We think people are getting worn out towards the end of the year, and they don’t concentrate as much, which leads to mistakes.

“There’s also the possibility that in a rush to finish off tasks leading up to the end of the year, people again let concentration slip and mistakes happen.

“We seem to get a lot of simple accidents, such as slips, trips and falls around this time of year,” Melanie said.

“There are also the outside stressors that occur at this time of year, with Christmas parties, concerts and end of year school and sporting break up events for children, which people might be thinking about, or rushing off to get to.”

Where to go for help

The MATES in Construction help line will be operating over Christmas and the New Year 1300 MIC 111 (1300 642 111).

Last updated
27 November 2019

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