As much as I love the holidays, they often bring a bunch of unwanted stress into my life. In Part One, we did some self-reflection on our button-pushers. Today, we’re assembling our stress-busting tool belts (don’t be caught without yours) on how to beat holiday stress. You don’t have to do everything on the list, just find your favorites. Let’s dive in!
Use visualization. Great professional athletes use this technique to make them even better. Try visualizing yourself in a situation that normally stresses you out. Instead of getting stressed, visualize yourself responding calmly and even having fun. Rehearse often for the biggest benefit.
Get super creative with exercise. I think one reason we stress during the holidays is that we stop doing things that are good for us. Working out isn’t just good for your waistline, it’s essential for your mental well-being. If it’s not realistic to hit the gym while you’re out of town for a week, get creative and find new ways to get exercise. Start a snowball fight, take a dog for a walk or offer to help bring chairs from downstairs.
Sleep, dammit. You gotta sleep, entrepreneurs. I know you think you can run on fumes just fine, but that won’t cut it this Christmas when the ham is on fire and your kids are peeing in the punch. It’s not just about quantity, either. Minimize caffeine, alcohol and food intake in the late evening. The winter is your chance to catch up on quality sleep- so don’t waste it, wedding pros.
Slurp that water. You already know that drinking water is going to make you feel better, especially at a time when you’re eating a bunch of junk food. But it’s so easy to forget with everything else going on. My advice? Buy a water bottle and take it with you everywhere. You might even stave off the flu this way.
Love your stomach. Speaking of food, don’t forget to indulge this season. Seriously, now is the time. Just be kind to yourself first. Start each day with a healthy breakfast, try to sneak in some fresh fruits and veggies with every meal and pack healthy snacks if you’ll be away from home. If you fill up on good stuff, you won’t be quite so hungry for the bad stuff that tastes so good.
Volunteer. If you don’t have plans to give back this season, find some time and do it. No matter how you volunteer, you’re bound to walk away with a better perspective. Every time I volunteer at a homeless shelter I come away with a profound sense of gratitude that I don’t come by any other way. After volunteering, I always have more time and money and a lot less stress. I’m definitely getting the better deal.
Turn your phone off. Business owners hate this one. I get it. I know some of you can’t stop checking your email. So we’ll compromise: decide in advance how much time you will spend with technology. Do you need to check email and Facebook everyday? This season is one of those rare occasions to really connect with loved ones. Don’t bury your nose in the phone. Be intentional and keep your promise to yourself.
Don’t take any of this too seriously. Following these guidelines and incorporating your own ideas will make your holidays much more pleasant. That said, you’re bound to fall short. You’ll forget to exercise or you’ll eat way too much. That’s okay. The real key to lowering holiday stress? Let go of expectations. Don’t be so hard on yourself. This year, before you get bent out of shape, treat yourself like Santa would instead. I should sell green and red bracelets that say “What Would Santa Do?”. Let me know if you want one.
Give yourself what you need. This list is just a little taste to get you started. You know what you need. Look back at your button-pushers. Ask yourself what you can do to prepare yourself for those tense situations. Make a plan and stick to it.
Stay tuned for Part 3 on crafting a battle plan for the holidays.
This post is part of a five part series for entrepreneurs called “Beating Holiday Stress.” In the holiday spirit of giving, Jeff is offering a free class on beating holiday stress at Skillshare.com. The class starts Dec. 3, 2012. Register Now.