While many Australians are looking forward to family celebrations, social connection and time off work this festive season, it can be a busy and stressful time for small business owners.

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If you and your employees are deep in the grind over the Christmas and New Year period, it’s a good time to check in with or develop your Business Mental Health Plan to help cope with common business stressors this time of year.

Holiday business stressors may include:

Work stress

Stress is a normal response of the body to specific demands and pressures, and in small doses it can help motivate you to reach your goals.

Stress can become a problem when it tips over from being helpful to overwhelming, and too much stress over a long period of time can lead to exhaustion, burnout and mental ill-health.

Signs that your stress levels may be too high include:

  • Being on edge, tense or irritable
  • Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope
  • Sleeping problems or constant fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling unmotivated
  • An unexplained drop in work performance
  • Feeling physically unwell
  • Having trouble with relationships

If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s a good indicator that you need to bring some stress relief tactics into your work life.

Find more information about managing work related stress.

Managing fatigue

When running your own business over the festive period, it’s easy to find yourself working long hours, juggling multiple priorities and feeling overwhelmed. The strain of additional holiday pressures may bring on fatigue,
a feeling of constant tiredness or weakness.

Fatigue can affect anyone, and most adults will experience it at some point in their lives. It is more than normal tiredness – physically you might feel heavy or lethargic, unable to muster the energy to handle daily tasks, while mentally you may feel unable or unwilling to focus.

Fatigue can reduce your ability to work safely and effectively and may lead to more serious mental and physical health issues if not addressed appropriately.

Help decrease your risk of fatigue by:

  • Keeping your routines for work, play and rest, where possible
  • Eating smaller amounts of food more frequently
  • Checking for any changes to body weight
  • Drinking plenty of water, especially in the heat
  • Staying active and exercise
  • Take a break to recharge your batteries, even if just for a short time

Fortunately for most people, fatigue can be effectively managed over time with some simple and practical lifestyle changes.

Social connections

Social connections are essential to health and wellbeing. Consistently sacrificing your social life for the sake of the business will eventually leave you feeling disconnected and dissatisfied. It is important to find time to spend with friends and family on a regular basis.

Staying socially connected buffers the effects of stress, helps protect you from depression and supports your overall mental health.

Find a range of tips for increasing social connection to find more balance in your life.

Alcohol and other drugs

The festive season provides an opportunity to celebrate business achievements with your team and loved ones, rewarding employees with end-of-year events.

While it’s not a problem to have a drink at a holiday party, regularly drinking or use of substances can become a form of self-medication to cope with the long work hours, fatigue and stress of running a business.

Left unchecked, this behaviour can impact on your general health and relationships and become problematic in the workplace.

Some tips to reduce the impact of alcohol and other drugs:

  • Moderate your consumption of alcohol.
  • Seek help for underlying mental health problems.
  • Avoid situations or people who promote or enable the problem.
  • Prioritise self-care and healthy ways of coping with stress.

Find out more about responsible use of alcohol and other drugs.

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