How to relax at Christmas
You may be reading this, thinking ‘but I already know how to relax at Christmas perfectly well, thank you”, and we’re certainly not trying to imply that you don’t. But, when you think about it, as the busy and ambitious owner or leader of a growing business, do you honestly take a proper break and allow yourself to fully wind down over Christmas?
As a leader, it can feel like you have to be ‘on’ 24/7, and that the business will fall down without your constant attention. That can be a very draining and overwhelming situation to be in. While we can’t fix it for you right now (although we will say that having a strong Finance Director at your side can help to reduce much of the feeling of overwhelm, so do talk to us if you don’t currently have one – we can provide part time FDs at a fraction of the cost of a full time FD) – what we can do, is provide some simple tips to help you to take a small step back over the Christmas break, and allow yourself maybe just a little relaxation time.
1. Get outdoors
If the weather is on your side, taking a walk outside in nature can have some hugely beneficial effects. Even a relatively short stroll can reduce Cortisol levels (our ‘stress’ hormone), lower your heart rate and reduce your blood pressure. As little as 20 minutes outside can help to actually shift brain activity and reduce anxiety levels.
If you don’t live anywhere with easy, quick, access to the countryside, don’t worry – even the most urban dwellers among us have access to a park or garden we can take a walk in. To gain the most benefit from this activity, try to slow down a little – there is no rush to reach your destination. And turn off your phone – let your voicemail step in for you for this short time so you can really feel the benefits.
2. Take a bit of ‘Me-time’
This doesn’t have to be an extended time period, but if you can take as little as half an hour entirely to yourself, it can be very beneficial to your mental health. If you know you’re likely to be interrupted or called upon to get involved in something, block it out in your diary and make it a non-negotiable. Do something just for yourself, with no other agenda than to relax. You might listen to some music, read a book, do some baking or gardening, call a friend or family member, or anything at all, that makes you feel like ‘you’ rather than ‘the boss’. And remember this Me-time absolutely does not have to be productive to be important and useful.
3. Plan ahead to avoid stressful triggers
Most families have their own set of Christmas triggers – it’s inevitable that sometimes tempers fray a little when we’re all cooped up together. And this year may be even more stressful due to the Covid restrictions and pandemic in general. So, if there are certain scenarios with certain people that you know are likely to trigger an uncomfortable situation, make a plan for them in advance. You might choose to discuss potential issues calmly with that person beforehand, or you can channel your inner Elsa and just ‘let things go’ for the time that you are together. If it’s alcohol that triggers a heated debate, make sure you limit your intake so your response to situations is not overly emotional and you can respond later when you’re feeling calm.
4. Forget Perfection
While striving for perfection in your business is admirable, aiming for it in your home life too is likely to cause stress and overwhelm. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect Christmas’ – all Christmases have their own charm, no matter what goes wrong or right on the day and in the run up to it. If you are putting pressure on yourself to try to make your Christmas ‘perfect’ , consider which things are really non-negotiables for you, and focus on those – let the other stuff ‘slide’ a little. Remember that Christmas is about spending time with those you love – all the rest is just an added bonus, focus on enjoying the time and let the trimmings be what they will.
5. Delegate, delegate, delegate
Just like in business, you do not have to do it all. Let others share the workload by delegating to a family member. Make a list of everything that you’d like to get done and then choose which items could just as easily be handled by someone else, and outsource it. Remember that delegating means you don’t have to manage that part – do let your deputy run with it, don’t try to micromanage or wrestle back control, even if that means it might turn out differently to how you would have handled it yourself. Who knows, things might turn out even better than if they had gone according to your perfect plan! (And you’ll have a ‘funny’ Christmas story to look back on and tell in future years.)
We hope these suggestions will help you to get a little well-deserved rest and relaxation over the festive period, so you can feel rejuvenated and ready to face whatever challenges 2021 may throw at us!