As the majority of the world slows down and savors the last few weeks of the year, entrepreneurs (and their employees) run themselves ragged to ensure business stays on track. Whether you simply can’t take time off—or just can’t convince yourself to—minimizing stress and prioritizing self-care is important. You’ve worked hard all year long. And while you might be in the midst of end-of-season marketing or dealing with year-end finances, don’t forget to relax, adjust those priorities and recharge your batteries so you’re ready to hit the ground running in January.
Here are 15 ways to ease the stress and take a breather while you close out the year.
15. Make it a point to get in the holiday spirit
Listen to a holiday audio book during your commute, turn on decorative lights in your house while you drink your morning coffee or put a snow globe on your desk. As an entrepreneur, you have less time to enjoy the season—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it a point to get into the spirit in any way possible.
14. Take (and give) time off, even if it’s a makeup
If at all possible, plan to shut down on the actual holiday(s) that matter to you. Remember: Most of your customers and clients will probably be doing the same. Depending on your business, you or your staff might need work on an actual holiday. If that’s the case, schedule a makeup day off for you and your employees.
13. Cut back on hours during December
Even if you or your employees skip out an hour early a few days per week or you decide to try out a four-day workweek, those few extra hours of free time can dramatically reduce stress and make it easier for everyone to focus on the job.
12. Become a stickler for breaks
Scheduling even just a few minutes to take a breather improves productivity and reduces fatigue. And during this time of year, it gives you (and your staff) a chance to peruse holiday sales, plan out a family meal or enjoy a festive YouTube video. It also creates opportunities for everyone to connect and engage in some non-work chatter.
11. Don’t try to handle personal holiday plans alone
You’re running a business—it’s nearly impossible to buy all the gifts, organize family get-togethers or host a big meal on top of it. If you have a partner and kids, ask your other half to handle shopping. If you’re part of a big family, offer to bring one dish to the main meal—don’t plan to cook everything yourself.
10. Start your day off with exercise
Start your day off with a hefty shot of endorphins to power through the day and sleep better at night. Bundle up and walk the dog first thing in the morning, do an at-home workout video or burn off steam at the gym.
9. Stop adding to your calendar
The year is almost over—it’s OK to start telling people “no” or pushing meeting requests to the beginning of next year. And it’s also OK to turn down social requests. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many holiday parties you can reasonably attend. If it’s not necessary and/or exciting, it doesn’t need to be on your schedule.
8. Try your hand at meditating
You don’t need to go full-blown guru, but taking even five minutes to sit back, relax and let your mind clear makes tackling that to-do list that much easier.
7. Help reduce others’ stress
Giving back—whether to charity, people in your network and/or your employees—feels good and acts as a reminder that you aren’t alone in feeling a bit frazzled. Volunteer a few hours of your time at your local food bank or offer to coach fellow entrepreneurs to help them make the most of the upcoming new year. And if you have employees, consider offering extended lunch breaks so they can tackle their holiday to-do list, pushing back tasks that don’t have to be completed this year or giving out a year-end grocery gift card as a small thank you.
6. Reconsider those travel plans
Sure, you want to see Grandma on the holiday. Or, you would love to take a friend trip to ring in the new year. But if you’re super swamped, you’ll spend most of the trip stressing about work. Instead, make plans to travel during January once everything calms down. It will give you something to look forward to now and act as a reward for all your hard work during December. And bonus: You’ll probably be able to take off more than a weekend.
5. Rethink your own to-do list …
Take a long, hard look at your list of tasks and pinpoint things that you really don’t need to do right this second. Then, push those tasks to your January list.
4. … And make it more enjoyable
Unfortunately, you (probably) can’t just skip the last month of the year and still maintain a healthy business. But you can make work more fun. Blast holiday music in the office, take your laptop to a local coffee shop to respond to emails, have employees come to work in ugly holiday sweaters, etc. Anything you can do to make the next few weeks more enjoyable will reduce stress.
3. Step away from the electronics
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re probably looking at one or more screens at any given time. Whether you make it a point to curl up with a book (away from the television) at the end of the day or set down your phone and walk around the office for 15 minutes, give yourself an electronic timeout.
2. Don’t apologize, or expect apologies, for taking time off
Give clients, customers and vendors advance notice that you’ll be shortening hours and/or out of office, but don’t feel bad about it. Likewise, if you have employees, make sure that they are well aware you expect them to enjoy the season with family and friends and will support them as much as possible in doing so.
1. Remain present
Don’t spend a holiday meal checking work emails or step outside to make phone calls while the family is decorating. When you’re off, you’re off—work can wait.
Interested in even more self-care ideas? Read through Biz.me’s The struggle is real, but these 5 entrepreneurs are sharing what works and 5 self-care tips to ramp up productivity.