‘Tis the Season – 3 Ways for Business Owners to Overcome Stress During the Holidays

‘Tis the season to be jolly but if you’re a business owner coming up on year-end you might be singing a different tune. Each season can bring it’s own stresses to entrepreneurs throughout the year but the holidays always seem to hit differently. If you’re stressin’ around the Christmas tree instead of rockin’ around it then here are three ways to overcome any anxieties than come your way.

#1 Find the Source of the Stress

Have you ever finished decorating the tree, all the lights shining, and the ornaments hung perfectly, to have just one string of lights in the middle go out? As if dealing with that stressful business transaction during the day wasn’t enough now all your hard work in the evening to trim the tree perfectly is ruined. Or is it?

It’s easy to blame your stress on the bigger picture but sometimes we need to take a deep breath, walk away from the problem at hand and recognize that the source of our troubles might be something else completely that you’d been holding on to.

Just like that string of Christmas lights. When they go out, you’d check to make sure they’re plugged in properly, check to see if there is anything with the wiring and then you might check each light individually to see which one burnt out… and sometimes fixing that one light is all it takes to fix the problem.

The holidays are a stressful time for all but figure out the one or two things that are really causing you the most worry and try to fix those first. Entrepreneurs often feel their work problems outside of the office which can lead to a waterfall of stress so it’s important to really hone in on the heart of the problem and work on that one first. Hopefully, after that, everything else will fall into place. 

#2 Take Time to Unwind

Relaxing can seem like a foreign concept to entrepreneurs but sometimes a little bit of rest can be the best medicine. So often we get caught up in rushing around during the holidays that even if we do have some time off, we don’t actually have time to unwind. 

This year, try setting some boundaries and decide on a day when you will do absolutely nothing. That’s right: No work phone calls, no driving to see friends or family, no shopping, no baking, no nothing. Literally, take a day all to yourself and let everyone close to you know this is something you need. Binge an entire series on Netflix, take a bath, read a book, go for a hike, whatever it is purposefully make time for yourself.

Entrepreneurs are used to being everything to everyone all the time. It might seem insane to think you could take a whole day off, especially if you have a family, but hey if your family makes you happy then you should absolutely include them in your “Me Day”… just be sure they know that you might not be at their beck and call during that time.

#3 Procrastinate Less

It’s easy to get so caught up with running your business that you lose track of the time, the date and the fact that Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or your celebration of choice has crept up on you faster than expected. It’s also easy to put things off because just thinking about the holidays gives you a headache.

Yes, in the moment procrastination can seem beneficial. “Christmas shopping? That can wait, I have a big deal to close which is more important”.  Gotta get eight days of presents for Hanukkah?  “I’ll do it after this week’s meetings because that’s what needs my focus now”. “Grocery shopping for Kwanzaa? I’ve got to get this invoice out so I can get paid so I can afford the feast”. Sound familiar?

Of course, this is the life of the entrepreneur. The continuous juggling act of doing all things, for all people, at all times and during the holidays, the balls you’re juggling just seem to pile on. And that’s when the stress kicks in and you’re left with a list a mile long and only one day until Christmas Eve wishing Santa could drop by and give you a hand.

So, knowing that this can cause you stress, make it a point to procrastinate less this year. Make a list of things (outside of work) that you’d like to accomplish for the holiday season and include dates next to each To-Do item. Whether it’s completing your shopping, finalizing travel plans or ensuring your cupboards are stocked, doing a little bit at a time in the weeks leading up to your holiday of choice will surely ease your stress and make you feel better about getting things done early this year.

With the holiday season upon us, it can feel like a mountain of stress instead of a mountain of candy canes, but as an entrepreneur, you have a special skill set that can help you overcome these obstacles. These three ways to reduce stress around the holidays are just a few ideas to help you get through this time of year but if you feel like the anxiety is ever too much, please know that you should seek help immediately, reach out to a loved one or a professional, and know that you don’t always have to do it alone. 

by Shannon Ferguson

Author Shannon Ferguson currently leads the growing team at Canadian tech startup FanSaves, as Co-Founder & CEO. In addition to writing for Spotlight on Business, she has been featured in Forbes and was a 2021 Young Leaders of the America’s Initiative fellow. FanSaves won the 2021 Best Ottawa Business Award for Best Leaders for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Shannon was most recently named a 2022 “Forty Under 40” in Canada’s National Capital Region.