“Busy? honey, I Ain’t been busy since 1978” – Arthur, “The Holiday”
I am finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel after what has quite possibly been the busiest two months of my entire life. And let me just say that nothing makes me cringe more than saying “I’m busy.” To me, it means I haven’t prioritized my time well, and feels like a bad excuse for why I can’t go to the party. But the fact is, the holidays really do bring on so many extra obligations—even fun ones—and it can be difficult to actually enjoy the season. I have made a huge effort to decrease stress in my life this year, and many of the things I’ve implemented are very simple tweaks. I hope some of these will help you figure out how to manage stress during the busiest time of year—or really anytime at all.
1. START SAYING NO: To all of my friends who consistently double book themselves—meaning you have RSVPd “yes” to two different friends or events on the same date—I’m talking to you! Nobody enjoys this, least of all you. When you say yes to too many things, nobody gets your full attention. Instead, they get the frantic version of you, who—let’s be honest—would much rather be home under the covers binging Netflix because you have overextended yourself yet again. I took on wayyyy too much this fall (book club, a writing course at Oxford, 3 trips that involved flights, relaunching this blog, AND rebranding my PR company). Needless to say, I failed the writing course, had to leave book club, and have been keeping a pace nobody can keep up with. Learn to say no in the most gracious way possible. It is the single most important thing you can do to feel less stressed out.
2. MAKE “HEADSPACE” A DAILY HABIT: I am in a goal group, and the last three months of the year, we are encouraged to make one goal that is more self-care related. Mine is to do the Headspace app once a day. I cannot recommend this app more highly. It’s amazing how much calmer you feel after spending a little time just breathing. All you need is five minutes. No excuses.
3. CHANGE YOUR MORNING ROUTINE: When I was really trying to figure out my migraine triggers, I realized that waking up and immediately reaching for my phone was starting my day off in a very stressful state. If I looked at email, there would inevitably be something I felt I needed to respond to right away. This meant that I jumped out of bed, frantically got in and out of the shower, and didn’t take one single second for myself before I sat down at my desk. Just giving myself 30 minutes before I check my phone in the morning has been life changing. I now have coffee in bed, read a book, or do the Daily Yoga app. Take a look at what you do first thing in the morning and watch how it sets the tone for your whole day. What can you do differently?
4. SET BOUNDARIES: I used to think I was good at setting boundaries until I hired a business coach. She taught me that there is a polite way to ask clients to email rather than to text when it is after hours. She taught me that I don’t have to respond to emails and texts immediately. She taught me that it is ok to not be available to every single person at every single minute of the day. You don’t have to be either!
5. STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER: Fall is always our busiest time of year at my company. Last year, I started something called Podcast Walks, where late in the afternoon, I committed to going on a walk in the late afternoon as a way to step away from my computer and breathe fresh air. It was incredible to give myself a break that incorporated physical activity. Schedule a walk into your calendar and make it as important as a client meeting or a doctor’s appointment.
Photo by Ashley Burns Photography