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Supporting yourself and your business over the holiday period

It’s been a tough year, and for some, Christmas is the shining light at the end of the 2020 tunnel with family celebrations, social connection and time off work. For others, the holiday period may be a time of stress or isolation, with many unable to travel to be with family or friends this year.

Small business owners have the additional pressures of running their business in this incredibly busy period, adhering to COVID-19 restrictions, and managing other holiday tasks like shopping for presents and arranging childcare during the school break. The festive period may have you feeling disconnected, stressed and burnt out – so it is important to identify some factors that may be affecting you, and understand what you can do to reduce the impact on your mental health.

Below are four areas that may be impacting your mental health and wellbeing at this time of the year, including some self-care tips on how to manage them.

Work stress

Small business owners have been faced with a multitude of new and unique stressors throughout the year. This ranges from closing their business indefinitely to arranging JobKeeper payments for employees – work stress has definitely been at an all-time high.

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 and stick to them: you may have already extended your working hours, be sure not to work beyond these.
  • Take your breaks: ensure you stop and have some lunch after your busy morning.
  • Implement some stress management techniques such as deep breathing or meditation into your daily routine, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.
  • 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’.
  • Develop/maintain good habits: eat well, exercise and be social
  • Think differently: challenge your unhelpful thinking patterns with more positive approaches. Your business made it through 2020, and you have done an amazing job.

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

Fatigue

As a small business owner, you may have experienced fatigue before, possibly while trying to manage your business throughout the peak of COVID-19. The festive period is another time of year small business owners may be experiencing fatigue, as 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:

  • Maintaining 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.
  • Eating 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.
  • Checking for any changes to body weight: You may notice an increase in weight from turning to sugary foods for energy or not exercising because of exhaustion.
  • Drinking 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.
  • Staying active and exercising: This may be the last thing you feel like doing after a busy day and in the hot weather – try an evening walk, a swim, or an online yoga class in the comfort of your home. Making the effort will make you feel a lot better.
  • 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 the ‘Managing fatigue’ article.

Social connections

For many people, social connections have suffered this year, with restrictions preventing everything from coffee catch-ups to interstate/international travel. This has had a big impact on the health and wellbeing of millions across the world. As restrictions are easing in Australia, remember the importance of social connections over this busy and stressful period. 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.

Below are some tips to help you initiate positive social connections this holiday period:

  • Share good and bad news with somebody you trust: don’t try to cope alone.
  • Take time to connect with family and friends: whether it be a coffee catch-up in your lunch break or an overnight camping trip.
  • Allow yourself to have a conversation at work: this may be with an employee or customer about something not work-related.
  • Find new ways to build connections: volunteer, participate in community events, join a local club etc.

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

Alcohol and other drugs

The holiday period provides a great opportunity to celebrate your small business achievements with your team and loved ones, rewarding employees with an end-of-year event.

While it’s not a problem to have a drink at a party, regularly drinking or using other substances can become a form of self-medication to cope with the long work hours, fatigue and stress of running a business. You may even notice your alcohol consumption has increased throughout 2020 as a way of coping with COVID-19 stress.

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, view the ‘Alcohol and other drugs’ article.

Beyond Blue has also developed some handy tips on coping with Christmas this year, with some suggestions on how to maintain mental health throughout all the financial and family stress the holiday period might bring for you. Read their ‘Coping with Christmas’ article here.

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