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"Better not pout, better not cry": Pleasanteeism hits Christmas, as Brits feel pressure to put on a brave face during festive season

December 8, 2021
The Lime Team

●     42% of UK workers worry they will have to put on a brave face when socialising with their colleagues this Christmas

●     43% are concerned about putting on a brave face and having to pretend they’re ok in front of friends and family over the festive season

●     Lime is urging individuals and employers to be more open about mental health and to take simple measures to improve wellbeing during the festive season


Wednesday 8th December 2021, London: ‘Pleasanteeism’ - the pressure to put on a brave face - continues to plague the UK, with many feeling unable to open up about their mental health as Christmas approaches.


That’s according to new research, released today by Lime Global, the provider of affordable and accessible whole of workforce health and wellbeing solutions.


Findings reveal that 42% of UK workers worry about putting on a brave face and having to act like everything is ‘okay’ when socialising with their colleagues this Christmas.


And pleasanteeism now appears to be spreading into worker’s personal lives as 43% worry about putting on a brave face in front of their friends and family over the festive season this year.


A range of factors are contributing to people not feeling their best this Christmas, with over half (55%) worried about NHS waiting times and COVID this winter, more than a third (34%) worried about money / the rising cost of living, and 28% feeling stressed at work.


Many are struggling behind the scenes rather than opening up about how they’re really feeling. Over a fifth (22%) worry that talking about their problems will bring other people down, and 29% don’t want to make a fuss about what they’re going through.  


But findings from the research suggested that workers would welcome simple initiatives from their employers to help their mental health - including being allowed to switch off from work properly over the Christmas period (18%) and being more mindful of workload and work / life balance (23%).


Lime is urging individuals and employers to be more open about mental health challenges and to take simple measures to help improve wellbeing and resilience during the festive season.


Shaun Williams, CEO & Founder, Lime Global Ltd, commented: Nearly two years since the start of the pandemic, for many a bit of Christmas cheer will be just what the doctor ordered. But the festive season can also bring a sense of obligation and over-commitment when many may be feeling vulnerable, burnt out or in need of personal space. This year, it’s vital that employers keep in mind the mental health and resilience of their entire workforce. Businesses must ensure that staff have time to take the space they need, to recuperate and rebuild their resilience over Christmas.”

Younger generations suffering in silence this Christmas  

Younger generations are most likely to experience pleasanteeism in both their work and personal lives this Christmas. Just under half (48%) of 16-24-year-olds and 25-34-year-old workers worry they need to put on a brave face while socialising with colleagues. This compares to just a third (33%) of those aged 55 and over.


Likewise, younger workers are more likely to pretend they’re ok to family and friends - with 49%of 16–24-year-old feeling the pressure to put on a brave face during festive celebrations. This compares to 29% of over 55s.


Dr Ben Littlewood-Hillsdon, Medical Director at HealthHero, commented: “We all associate the holiday season with socialising and merriment - in fact, it’s important to remember that even though it is a joyful period, for many it can be a very difficult time - particularly for those who have had an especially challenging time during the pandemic.


“Work and personal worries don’t disappear over Christmas, yet many will feel even more reluctant to open up about how they’re truly feeling, at the risk of bringing other people down. It’s more important than ever to check-in with your loved ones this Christmas, to give them a safe space where they can open up and help build their resilience ahead of the new year.”



Christmas tips for beating pleasanteeism


1)     Christmas can feel overwhelming, particularly if you’re not feeling your best. But don’t over schedule and put pressure on yourself to attend every event if you’re not feeling up to it.

2)     Remember to prioritise yourself and practice self care. Christmas can get very busy but it’s important that wellbeing routines don’t fall by the wayside.

3)     Loved ones are there for you all year round, so don’t be afraid that opening up about how you’re really feeling will bring other people down over the festive season.


1)     Ensure employees have enough time to switch off over the festive season – even if it’s a busy period for your business. Lead by example, show staff that a break to reset is vital for building resilience.

2)   Workplace socialising in the run up to Christmas can feel daunting, even without the looming anxiety of COVID-19. Where possible, let staff decide what activities they’re comfortable with this festive season.

3)     Time off to recuperate is crucial but not always possible in every job during the festive season. However, opening up the conversation around mental health and wellbeing, being actively supportive and providing opportunities for employees to be honest about what’s going on in their lives without fear of negative repercussions can go a long way to building resilience and helping people feel valued.


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