Many times, we struggle with stress and anxiety during the holiday season.
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.
- Approximately 13% of the population experience social anxiety, which increases during the holidays because of celebrations and gatherings.
- Four out of 10 individuals with a diagnosed mental illness said the holidays made their condition “somewhat” worse.
What Causes Stress?
The holiday seasons can add another layer of stress to your life. You have to battle the crowds at the mall, the kids are out of school and you have to find childcare. Also, you are trying to buy presents, decorate, and prepare the house for relatives.
On top of this, as a small business owner, you may feel that this could be your busiest season of the year where most of the revenue is made. You may also find your customers are in a rush and impatient.
Healthcare professionals like Chiropractors and Dentist offices, for example, see an increase in patients because kids are out of school. Most 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 manage holiday stress?
A few minutes of meditation can reduce your stressful feelings. It also helps improve attention and cognitive performance, according to a recent study.
The idea of mindfulness is to be aware of what is going on with you at the moment. Try not to 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.
Mindfulness training also helps with your ability to concentrate 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 found this app called Calm that is helping me in my efforts to practice mindfulness meditation.
Need an Affordable Time Clock App for Your Employees? Try out ezClocker for FREE!
While sleeping, talking to a friend, and eating are all well-known stress coping techniques, exercise may be the one most recommended by health care professionals. According to the 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. Establishing great morning routines can help you feel productive and reduce holiday stress this season. Plan to exercise for about 20-30 minutes a day, which can make a lot of difference.
Try to Stay Organized
Ensure you have a plan to help you stay organized. Write down your plans for when you are going shopping or when the kids are on holiday break. You could even write down when you plan to decorate the tree or the house. Once you write these things down in your calendar, you will feel better and not so overwhelmed. Also, realize you may break those plans and it is okay. If you do, just move it to another day.
Furthermore, if your list looks long and you know you aren’t going to complete tasks, what could you take off? Do you have to put all of the holiday decorations up? Could you spend a couple of hours holiday shopping online instead of going to the mall? What are the most important things you must do? Put those tasks down first so that you can get the most important tasks done quickly.
No matter how well you organize your day something will come that will throw you off your schedule. Plan for those times too. Schedule blank time in your calendar for those unknown factors.
Realize Something Will Go Wrong
One technique that I’ve found helpful is just accepting that something will go wrong and it is okay. Sometimes we beat ourselves up too much trying to please everyone including our customers. However, the reality is somebody is going to get mad or disappointed at some point.
You are juggling many things at once. At some point, something will fall, and your business will 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 is okay.
Realize you don’t have to be perfect. 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.