The holidays can be a stressful time. We’re traveling, hosting events, managing family members, and shopping for everyone on our list. In business, we’re scrambling to make year-end goals, trying to get a jump on the bookkeeping, and constantly trying to rise above the seasonal din. There can sometimes be so much pressure and stress, that it’s easy to forget that holidays are something to be enjoyed.
That’s why this is one of the most important times to practice self-care. Take a step back from outside pressures and ask yourself, What do I need, right now?
While everyone’s exact needs will be different, I find that most people’s stress comes from external pressures rather than internal ones. That’s why, when you feel inundated with obligations, irritable, and ready to snap, it’s important to ask yourself these three questions:
What if I said no? For me, December brought forth a slew of holiday party invitations, last-minute client requests, opportunities for cross promotion and affiliate launches, and other things that, while wonderful, added more to my plate. Individually, these are all things I would enjoy and find rewarding, but when they come all at once, it feels overwhelming and stressful. So I started asking myself, What if I said no? What if I wasn’t an affiliate for this particular launch? What if I missed one of the holiday parties? What if I delegated the client work, or asked them if it could wait for the New Year? If I thought about saying no, and it made me feel relieved, more at ease, then I declined. While there are some things that are out of your control, you’d be surprised how much really isn’t. It may feel like these invitations and opportunities are obligations, but when you take the time to really think about it, in reality, they aren’t.
What would I be doing if I didn’t know what anyone else was doing? The comparison trap is real, and we all have a tendency to fall into it from time to time, especially during the holidays. I’m in a Facebook group of entrepreneurs, and when I heard everyone talking about their plans for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, I started to panic. Should I be doing something too? Maybe you see people in your network sending out client gifts, readying their 2018 launch plans, joining Mastermind groups, registering for conferences, and other things that leave you wondering, Am I missing something? Should I be doing that?
It’s easy to look at what everyone else is doing, start to panic, and then frantically attempt to catch up and copy their tactics. That’s why it’s important to close your eyes and your ears, ignore the noise around you, and ask yourself, What do I want to be doing? For me, capitalizing on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday wasn’t something that interested me; I don’t like trying to compete with everyone and frankly, I wanted to spend the Thanksgiving weekend away from my computer. Instead, I focused on a year-end sale taking place through the end of December, which is more of a slow burn and doesn’t require a lot of extra effort on my part. It’s not to say that those who took advantage of the shopping weekend are wrong, their goals are just different from mine this year. So rather than focusing on what everyone else is doing and stressing out because you think you’re getting left behind, focus your attention inward, and do what’s right for you.
Does this bring me joy? Not to get all Marie Kondo on you, but her concept on focusing on things that bring you joy is spot on. There are some necessary evils – paying taxes, taking out the garbage – that don’t bring us joy, but that’s why it’s so important to focus our time and energy on the things that do. You may think that attending conferences and networking events is something that you need to do, but if you don’t feel rewarded and positive about going, those events won’t be an effective use of your time. Even little things, like putting up Christmas decorations or making your signature cookies for the holiday party, may not actually bring you joy anymore. If that’s the case, then skip the tree and bring bakery cookies to the party.
While this relates to the What if I said no? question, this one requires deeper reflection. Saying no is part of it, but a bigger part is gaining an understanding of who you are, what you do, and what you value. If you are clear on the things that reward you and the things that drain you, it will be easier to take care of yourself and not risk reaching your breaking point.
Asking yourself these important questions will guide you in practicing self-care and reducing your stress during the holiday season so that you can better enjoy it. Have a self-care tip that always works for you? Feel free to share it in the comments. And don’t forget to download a list of self-care ideas below!