10 Tips To Avoid Holiday Stress For EntrepreneursDec 18, 2021
Happy Holidays to you my friends!
We are getting closer to that time of the year where we focus on navigating spending time with family… holiday gatherings… lots of food… lots of charcuterie boards… gift giving… traveling… parties… kids… cooking… baking… doing ALL the things during the holidays.
What do your holidays look like? Do they tend to be a little crazy?
Maybe your holiday season last year was incredibly quiet, so this year if you plan on seeing more people and being more active it might feel a bit more overwhelming. Last year things were still shut down in New York for the most part so our holidays were really quiet.
Not a lot of people were traveling, or were able to travel last year, because of the pandemic (depending on where you live), so maybe integrating back into a busy holiday season feels like a bit of a shock after experiencing an extended period of quieter times.
The world experienced something it never has before and we’re still dealing with it, so going back to a life that many of us have been missing might be exciting and refreshing, but it also might feel uncomfortable, strange and stressful.
A couple of weeks ago we went to Rockefeller Center and Saks Fifth Avenue to see the tree and all the displays with friends. Afterwards we walked to Bryant Park to see the holiday market and the ice-skating. It was so beautiful and it was also a warm Friday night so the streets were packed!!
I haven’t seen New York City that busy with people in a very long time. I thought it was great! The energy of everyone enjoying the sights, the music, the lights - it just made me so happy and I was feeling such joy being there with my daughter, my husband, and our friends.
Unfortunately while we were there, one of our friends almost had a panic attack.
As we walked through a very dense section of the crowd, my friend started to panic. We were unaware of it at the time, but he told us later that he started to feel claustrophobic. It had been a long time since he had experienced being in a crowd like that so it suddenly became incredibly overwhelming for him. He started thinking he was going to get stuck and that he wouldn't be able to get out.
Meanwhile - I was thinking "This is amazing! I’m so happy to be here right now!"
Two very different thoughts that generated two very different emotions in the exact same situation.
After that experience, I felt very motivated to talk about taking care of ourselves during this holiday season, and what that looks like as we navigate situations that may feel overwhelming, annoying, frustrating, aggravating, or scary.
Let's be honest... the holidays for many of us are typically busy and overwhelming - but this year that might be amplified for you.
I write this blog mostly for female entrepreneurs, so we have our businesses to consider as well. I’ve found with many of my clients that when they’re busy with family obligations during this time of the year, they feel guilty about not focusing on their business. They experience a lot of worry and fear because they think they should be working on growing their business. They think everything will fall apart if they take time away.
When the mind drama is working overtime, it makes your holidays even more stressful and overwhelming.
If this is resonating with you, I want you to take a nice deep breath.
AND then I want you to smile.
AND take another nice deep breath. Breathe right down into your belly.
What we just did there was activate your natural relaxation response. When you take a nice deep breath you send a signal to your brain that everything is fine… there is no danger… you’re safe… and that everything is OK.
When we’re stressed and anxious we take small shallow breaths. We breathe up in our chest.
If we take nice deep breaths we breathe into our abdomen and into the lower part of our lungs, which helps to control our nervous system and tells the body to relax.
And the reason I told you to smile is because when you smile, your brain releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. This natural feel-good cocktail floods your body simply by smiling, helps you feel happier & more relaxed... and it can even lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
So if you’re feeling some stress or anxiety during the holidays (or really at anytime) take some deep breaths and put a nice big smile on your face. It might seem silly and simplistic, but it will naturally and effectively boost your mood and offer some great health benefits as well.
Look - Entrepreneurs need a break too. In fact it’s CRUCIAL.
Crucial means decisive or critical, especially in the success or failure of something.
If you want to have a successful business then taking time to relax and rejuvenate is a big part of that.
When you take some time for yourself and really implement some self-care into your life, you will become a more effective CEO of your business. You will be better equipped to serve your clients. You will have clearer ideas, be more creative, and be in a much better headspace when you take that time for your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Let’s be real - building a business is challenging. The holidays can be stressful.
Have you ever heard people say after the holidays that they need a vacation after their holiday?
Don’t be that person because THAT won’t serve you as you grow your business. In fact it will hinder the growth of your business.
Your brain doesn’t see self-care as something that will help you grow your business. Your brain sees it as time AWAY from focusing on your business.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE listen to me when I tell you that taking that time for self-reflection, relaxation, and self-care, especially during the holidays, is just as important (if not MORE important) than diligently working on a 5-step success formula to make $100,000, your sales funnel, or your social media strategy for the first quarter.
So here are some ways you can incorporate more relaxation and rejuvenation into your holiday season...
#1. Take deep breaths and put a big grin on your face
If you need to go somewhere private to do this, that’s fine. If you’re noticing that you’re starting to feel stressed or anxious, then excuse yourself, go into the bathroom or somewhere else where you won’t be interrupted and take some great big deep breaths and smile.
After you do this for 30 - 60 seconds, notice how your energy shifts.
#2. Think of all the things you’re grateful for
This is another great tool to use to shift your mindset and your emotional state. Plus you can incorporate it into your breathing exercise. While you're breathing deeply, think of 5 things you’re grateful for and that will enhance that smile even more!
You can also incorporate a powerful gratitude practice through journaling. Take some time first thing in the morning or before you go to bed to write down 5 - 10 things you're grateful for.
#3. Speaking of journaling... during your holidays incorporate a daily routine that consists of journaling, meditation, prayer, visualization, yoga, or whatever feels good and doable for you. And make it non-negotiable
Your mind, body and soul… AND your business… will be so much better off because you incorporated a simple and consistent routine into your day.
#4. Set up an out-of-office email response
This was something I did several weeks ago when one of my best friends came to stay with us for a week.
This ended up being such a powerful self-care tool. More than I could have ever anticipated. It’s been probably over 7 years that I created an out of office reply, but I decided I truly wanted to take some time off while my friend was here, so I set it up to let everyone know that I was away from my desk and not available. I gave specific dates on when I’d be back and when I’d be replying to their email.
It was powerful because during that week away from my office, it allowed my brain to relax. I knew that people were being informed of my absence and when I’d be back so I had no mind drama about my email, responding to people, or stuff not being attended to.
They got the message. They saw when I’d be back. And I could relax and enjoy my time off.
#5. If you have a staff or a team - tell them when you won't be available
When my friend was in town, I let my team know ahead of time so everyone was on the same page. I sent them all a message of my intention to take time away and very specific instructions on how to contact me if there was an emergency.
And let me tell you what happened... our website essentially blew up during the week I was away.
There were some updates that weren’t compatible with the set-up of our website, so our retreat calendar wasn’t working… there were error messages happening all over the site when you clicked on certain links… the site was a disaster! Essentially it blew up.
And when this happened, my phone started lighting up like a Christmas Tree with messages in our WhatsApp thread. However, because I had told everyone I was taking time away, my business partner sent me a private message saying, “I’m sure you’re seeing all the messages, but don't worry - we’re figuring it out and I’ll contact you directly if we need your help. Otherwise we’re on top of it".
So I took a deep breath… I put a great big smile on my face… I thought about how grateful I was for my business partner and for my team… and then I continued with my week off and enjoyed the time with my friend.
And here’s the thing… if you’ve been prioritizing your self-care and taking some time to relax during your holiday and things DO go sideways in the middle of your holiday that you have to attend to, then you’ll be in a much better place to handle it.
Do you see that?
#6. Unplug! Don't open your laptop… don't check your business emails… unplug, unplug, unplug
Initially it might feel a little uncomfortable. Maybe even irresponsible. It’s crazy how our brains start to automatically fear change.
My brain is very comfortable with me checking my email regularly, and being close to my phone and my laptop at all times. So when I unplug my brain thinks there’s something wrong and will do whatever it can to steer me back to something it’s comfortable with. In this case it's comfortable working and having access to my electronics at all times. My brain feels safe constantly checking my inbox and opening up my laptop to get to work.
But when you work through the discomfort of stepping away, it feels so rejuvenating on the other side of that.
Isn’t it crazy that the act of taking care of ourselves requires us to work through discomfort?!
#7. Create boundaries for yourself and stick to them
Boundaries will help so you don’t give into urges to start working on your funnel or strategize your marketing plan.
Boundaries are important. Set them for yourself so you don’t give into urges to work AND set boundaries for yourself with all of the activities and family obligations and parties that happen during the holidays. You don't have to do it all.
#8. Plan your down time
Plan a day to sit on the couch under a blanket and binge watch a Netflix show you’ve been dying to see… or climb into bed to read that new New York Times Best Selling Novel everyone’s been talking about. Plan a day at the spa just for yourself. Just plan it ahead of time and stick to the boundaries you set for yourself.
#9. Celebrate your accomplishments
Something else we tend to do at the end of the year is plan for the year ahead, but we don’t spend time celebrating all we accomplished during the past year.
We don’t celebrate ourselves enough as women or as entrepreneurs, so spending the time to reflect on the past year with the intention of recognizing and celebrating everything we achieved is a powerful and beautiful practice to end the year with.
It is important to celebrate our success. Especially because entrepreneurs are typically pushing themselves to constantly aim higher and higher... always working towards achieving the next goal. It’s easy to forget how far we have come and what we have achieved along the way.
Celebrating and most importantly FEELING that success causes chemical changes in our bodies that are similar to when we smile. It releases endorphins that make us feel good so in turn it reinforces success. It makes the brain to want to do more of it. It motivates us to succeed more.
#10. Plan a buffering day
I added this to the list, but with caution. For me this year our holidays will be a total of 10 days and I plan on taking the majority of that off, but I will be adding one buffering morning into my schedule, and my first day back at work will be a buffering day.
A buffering day is a day where I plan a morning or an afternoon where I catch up on my emails because I know if I leave them for a total of 10 days, I’ll come back to an overflowing mess. Sometimes I'll also plan a full buffering day the first day back at work. So if my plan is to go back to the office on January 3, in my out-of-office reply I’ll say I’ll be back on the 4th so I can spend January 3rd getting caught up.
BONUS TIP. Take yourself out on a date. Since it's the holidays dedicate one day where you take yourself out on a date to a museum... or you go out for lunch by yourself... or a nice long walk in nature on your own. Maybe go see a movie or go to a yoga class.
If the thought of stepping away from your business freaks you out, then think of it as rejuvenating your entrepreneurial muscles and your entrepreneurial mind.
You will become a better business builder when you make time for yourself a priority.
And as a reminder - it all comes down to your thoughts. Just like the story of my friend who was thinking he was going to get stuck in the crowd which made him feel claustrophobic … vs my thought of “This is amazing! I’m so happy to be here right now!” which made me feel joy.
Your thoughts are powerful my friends.
What are the thoughts that will serve your self-care and relaxation during the holidays?
I’m wishing you so much joy over the holidays - enjoy yourself. Take care of yourself. Because you, your loved ones, and your business deserve it.
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