For many small business owners, the holiday season is their peak period for sales in the year. This means long hours and continual problem solving. All of this contributes to stress (as if small business owners don’t have enough throughout the year). According a FreshBooks report, 40% of SMB owners haven’t taken a break in more than a year. There’s lots of advice online about how to handle stress during the holiday season. Here are some ideas for dissipating the stress once the holiday season is over, so you can face the new year.
Recognize the science behind stress
Being a small business owner is stressful. This is so whether business is booming or faltering. Unfortunately, as you probably know, stress is not good for your health. The Mayo Clinic notes that the common side effects of stress are headaches, chest pain, fatigue, stomach upset, and insomnia.
There are a number of common-sense ways to manage stress throughout the year; some of these may have been ignored during the holiday season but you can get back to them now. These stress-management strategies include:
- Getting regular exercise. I’ve found this works best if you have a routine, such as exercising before you begin your workday. Others may prefer mid-day activities or going to a gym after work.
- Practicing relaxation techniques (e.g., medicating, praying, massage)
- Taking time for yourself to pursue hobbies or other interests outside of your business.
- Spending time with family and friends. Planning ahead for a special meal or outing gives you something to look forward to.
- Creating a manageable schedule. This may be setting business hours and not responding to texts or email after closing. I have one day a week that I don’t work at all.
Be grateful for what you’ve accomplished
The holiday season is over; you made it. Maybe it was great, or maybe sales were below your expectations. A poll of small businesses in my area found that 52% were disappointed in Small Business Saturday sales. Whichever way sales turned out for you during the holiday season—just getting through or having an outstanding season—celebrate your success. Throughout 2022, many small companies went out of business; you did not.
Take time off
Even though the rush of the holiday season is over, holiday-related activities continue. Post-holiday is the time for consumers to return merchandise and to use the gift cards they’ve received. Retailers also need to take a physical year-end inventory to determine what’s still on hand and see what needs be ordered. Unfortunately, you’re likely to see “shrinkage” resulting from thefts by customers and employees and/or from miscounts of items. Nonetheless, it’s important for your personal health—and the health of your business—to take time off. This may be as informal as closing your phone and computer over a weekend staycation or as lovely as a week or two away on a holiday.
The FreshBook report referenced earlier found that 85% of SMB owners continue to work in some capacity during vacation time and 50% still feel stressed while away from work. These statistics aren’t good; you need to decompress from holiday stress.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~~ William James, American philosopher, historian, and psychologist (and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the U.S.)
If your stress is out of control and you can’t manage it alone, get professional help.