According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily. The holiday season adds another layer to that stress because in addition to all the crowds in the mall, kids out of school, trying to prepare the house for the relatives or battling the airport security lines to go visit family, a small business owner has the responsibility that this could be his/her busiest season of the year where most of the revenue is made. They also find their customers are in a rush and impatient. Health professionals like Chiropractors and Dentist offices, for example, see an increase of patients because kids are out of school and patients are trying to meet their deductible for the year. Retail stores depend solely on the holiday season sales to get them back in the black, and services like catering or janitorial companies find they need to hire extra help to meet the demand. For these people the holiday season might not be the most joyful time of the year.
So how do you mange stress during the holidays?
Mindfulness Meditation: A recent study shows that a few minutes of meditation can reduce stress, and it also helps improve attention and cognitive performance. The idea of mindfulness is to be aware of what is going on with you at the moment and not let the mind wonder off thinking about what happened in the past or what could come in the future. In the study that was conducted by a team from Carnegie Mellon University, they divided participants into two groups. One group practiced mindfulness training for 25 minutes while the other did poetry analysis to boost critical thinking skills. After three days they gave both groups a stressful task and measured their stress levels. They found the people who’d gone through mindfulness training were less stressed than the ones that were trained in critical thinking.
What mindfulness training also helps with is concentration and focus. There are a thousand things that distract us every day which adds to the stress level, but if you can train your mind to be present at the moment, you’ll find that you have more control over the situation. I just found this app called Calm that is helping me in my efforts to practice mindfulness meditation.
Exercise: While sleeping, talking to a friend and eating are all well-known stress copying techniques, exercise may be the one most recommended by health care professionals. According to ADAA “Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects”. Now before you say “I barely have time to sleep let alone exercise,” the best technique I’ve found is to schedule exercise as the first thing you do in the morning before your crazy day starts. 20-30 minutes a day can make all the difference.
Something will go wrong: One technique that I’ve found helpful is just accepting that something will go wrong and it’s OK. Sometimes we beat ourselves up too much trying to please everyone including our customers, and the reality is somebody is going to get mad or disappointed at some point. One of the balls you’re juggling will fall and your business will still survive. A customer might cancel an order this holiday season because they got mad or didn’t like it, Aunt Mary might hate the gift you spent hours picking, and the pie you baked might not be the greatest and that’s OK. You can only try your best and don’t beat yourself up if something goes wrong. Just adopting a different mindset this holiday season might make it the best one ever.
Author: Raya Khashab
Raya is the CEO and co-founder of ezClocker. She is passionate about customers and building products that change the way people run their business. She is also a big supporter of the startup community and helping people achieve their dreams.