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Overcoming holiday stress

The year 2021 has been another challenging one, particularly for small business owners who have had their doors closed for most of it, who have had to navigate restrictions, manage support payments, and deal with other COVID-related setbacks. While many business owners are seeing Christmas as an opportunity to ‘catch up’ after slow year, it is important that this does not lead to increased stress and burnout.

Even without the pressure of running your own business, Christmas can be a stressful time of year. To ensure you get through the holiday period without becoming burnt out, it’s important to look after yourself, and be aware of things that may cause you stress. These holiday stressors could include:

Work stress

If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, unmotivated, and are having difficulty concentrating or sleeping, you could consider introducing some of the following strategies into your life:

  • Define your Christmas work hours - Don’t work indefinitely every day, set a start and finish time, or a maximum amount of hours for the week – and stick to it.
  • Take your breaks - Make sure you take time to eat, rest, and recharge throughout the day.
  • Implement some stress management techniques - For example, stop for a short one-minute breathing exercise when you are feeling stressed at work.
  • Say ‘no’ or delegate - Christmas is busy, so it is important to set realistic deadlines for your customers and staff. Sometimes the best course of action is to say ‘no’.
  • Look after yourself – Don’t let stress break any of your good habits. Be sure to eat well, exercise and maintain social connections.
  • Think differently – Challenge your unhelpful thinking patterns with more positive approaches. For example, focus on the positive outcomes of the day, rather than the negative.

For more information and management strategies, read our ‘Managing work stress’ article.

Fatigue

Over the holiday period, you may find yourself working longer hours, juggling multiple priorities and feeling slightly overwhelmed. The strain of additional holiday pressures may bring on the effects of fatigue, a feeling of constant tiredness or weakness.

Help decrease your risk of fatigue by incorporating these into your day:

  • Maintain a routine - While December may throw your usual routine out of whack, it is important to develop a new routine for this busy period where you allow yourself time for work, play and rest.
  • Eat regularly - It can be easy to forget to eat when you are run off your feet, but eating smaller amounts of food more frequently will help maintain you energy.
  • Drink plenty of water, especially in the heat - Aim for around three litres per day. Establish how much water your drink bottle holds and how many times you need to fill it up.
  • Stay active and exercise - This may be the last thing you feel like doing after a busy day, any exercise you manage is better than nothing. Try an evening walk, a swim, or an online yoga class in the comfort of your home.
  • Take a break to recharge your batteries - During this busy period you may not find time for yourself, try giving yourself the morning off to sleep in or taking a long lunch break so you can go for a walk – you will feel more refreshed and be in a better headspace to run your business.

For more information, check out our ‘Managing Fatigue’ article.

Social connections

While social connection is important for your wellbeing, the numerous social engagements Christmas brings can be exhausting, so it is important to find a balance that works for you. Below are some tips to help you maintain positive social connections this holiday period:

  • Take time to meaningfully connect – Your time over Christmas is valuable, so prioritise social occasions where you will have the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with someone.
  • Open up to those you trust – If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, talk to a close friend or family member about how you are feeling.
  • Allow yourself to have a conversation at work – This may be with an employee or customer about something not work related.
  • Do not overcommit – If you have many offers to social events, try to space them out as much as possible so you have some time to yourself. You could even push some things back to January.

To see a range of tips for increasing your social connection, see our ‘Social Connection’ article.

Alcohol and other drugs

With the many social gatherings and holiday celebrations occurring throughout December and January, the use of alcohol and other substances may increase.

Left unchecked, this behaviour can not only impact on your general health and relationships, it can 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.

For more information on this, please check out our ‘Alcohol and other drugs’ article.

There are lots of helpful articles and resources you can use to help navigate the non-work side of the holiday period. Reach Out and Beyond Blue have some tips on coping with the stress of Christmas.

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