Holiday Well-Being Campaigns Work; Here’s Why

Each year, I hear people say that holiday well-being campaigns won’t work for their population… I have to disagree.

During the season run-up, there’s much to do: arranging travel, gift shopping, preparing for traditional feasts, decorating, attending school and social functions, sending out holiday greetings, and more. The frantic pace can knock anyone off stride, personally and at work.

Exercise habits so dutifully cultivated throughout the year get crowded out in an attempt to finish another holiday-related task. Fresh, healthy, balanced meals become the exception, not the rule. And don’t even think about taking time to relax, meditate, read a good book, or journal — maybe after New Year’s.

With all this going on, why would a wellness manager even think about running a holiday well-being campaign? Do your employees, members, or clients really need 1 more thing to do? Do you? Valid questions.

Not Just Another Thing to Do

Tempted to shy away from holiday well-being programs due to the hustle and bustle? It’s important to remember they can help participants build self-regulation and problem-solving skills to foster sustainable behavior change.

Neglecting physical and emotional needs only intensifies stress and triggers additional unhealthy behaviors. The more hectic and out of control the holidays become, the more people need a reminder ― a tool to help them regain balance and a sense of control. Teaching participants to thrive through the holidays can generate momentum to help them continue practicing well-being habits into the next year and beyond.

Enough Dos and Don’ts; Inspire Well-Being

Though well intentioned, peppering participants with warnings and “do this, don’t do that” lists can perpetuate an expectation that the holidays are indeed a time for stress and weight gain. While regular exercise and good nutrition are extremely important, they’re not the only habits that matter.

During the holidays, people don’t want to focus on their weight. And they don’t want to be told to curtail their merrymaking or stifle their shopping habits. Most want to spend time with loved ones, partake in seasonal festivities and faith practices, and simply enjoy the season without fretting about everyday matters.

Overplayed admonitions often fall on deaf ears; after all, having a few holiday treats isn’t a crime. Being flexible and focusing instead on joyful holiday experiences go a long way toward making healthy living sustainable.

Why HES Started a Holiday-Themed Well-Being Campaign

For years, our account managers told me: Dean: we need a holiday-themed well-being program! I knew they were right, but there was always another anytime campaign to build, more travel-themed adventures to create, and one more custom-designed program to produce for our clients. Eventually, the runaway success of our other seasonal campaigns, Walktober and Spring Into Motion, was just too much to ignore — so we started the process.

Health for the Holidays

What we came up with and have honed over the years differs from any of our other programs. In the 2018 Health for the Holidays participants log daily behaviors, “painting” a magical holiday scene along the way. The more activities, the richer the painting becomes. In addition, they’re surprised each week with daily Gift Box behaviors challenging them to do simple things that contribute to a brighter, more cheerful outlook.

Participants love Health for the Holidays, and we love offering a holiday-themed well-being campaign that helps them get through the season a little happier and healthier.

Holiday Well-Being Campaigns Do Work

Across all HES clients, goal completion for Health for the Holidays is on par with our non-holiday well-being campaigns. The participant feedback blows us away — and reinforces that holiday well-being campaigns really do work.

“Before I did this program, I had to take a nap each day when I got home from work. Now I do not. This way I can get more done and I find myself getting caught up with most of my to do lists.”
Mathew Morse

“I did not gain any weight through the holidays! I actually dropped 2 pounds. It’s all about moderation. I sacrificed nothing!”
Amanda Hooper

“Health for the Holidays combined nutrition, exercise, stress relief, and competition into a program that was good for the body, mind, and soul. It’s always more motivating to be on a team and encourage others while you are being encouraged.”
Dawn Phillips

Imagine how refreshing it would be to participate in a holiday well-being campaign with “softer” messages of hope, joy, peace, and compassion this season instead of the constant drumbeat of portion sizes, calories, and stress management techniques.

That’s why we recommend wrapping up the year with a holiday well-being campaign like Health for the Holidays. Give your participants the tools they need to make it through the hustle and bustle a little happier and healthier.


Dean WitherspoonDean Witherspoon
Dean Witherspoon is CEO and founder of HES and has been the managing editor of the Well-Being Practitioner (formerly the Health Promotion Practitioner) since 1992. He leads the most creative team in wellness, serving organizations worldwide with best-in-class workplace wellness campaigns.

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