This past holiday season was the busiest and most stressful for my business. Busyness, in my career, is a good thing – it means that people are shopping and placing orders! It also means that I find myself very overwhelmed and unable to think about anything other than what I need to get accomplished, day in and day out. November/December of 2018 was a more stressful time than planning our wedding or packing for our move halfway across the country!
In an effort to maintain my sanity and find joy during that time, I implemented a few things that helped me to manage my stress.
Find something that relaxes you and make time for it.
This first half of this was easy, the second half was difficult. I know myself pretty well by this point in life, so I know the things that I can do that will help to take my mind of off whatever is weighing on me and give me a little break, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Those things are working out, taking a hot bath, watching an episode of a TV show, or reading a few chapters in a book. My relaxation method of choice this winter was taking a hot bath, so I took one nearly every night. It was a chance for me to decompress, relax my muscles, and “wash” away the stress of the day.
Part of a healthy work-life balance is knowing yourself. I know that for my mental, physical, and overall health, I need to take a little bit of time for myself every day. When I have a lot on my plate, it’s pretty easy for me to deny myself of that. I’m a do-er — I don’t like having unfinished tasks, even things as small as dirty dishes in the sink or a pile of towels that needs to be washed. I can power through and “suffer” for a few days if it means that my obligations will be completed sooner. Knowing these two incongruent things about my personality/work habits, I had to set a time each day that I would stop working. I’d start my day in the 6 o’clock hour looking over my work and setting a goal for what I wanted to accomplish that day. Most days, my goal was processing and shipping x amount of orders (I don’t think I ever hit my daily goal, but that’s okay!). I would then set my “end of workday” time. Most days, that was 7-7:30pm. I had to put that limitation on myself because I knew that if I didn’t, I would be denying myself the essential piece of alone time/down time in my day, which is not healthy.
I can honestly say that having those boundaries set up was one of the better things that I did for myself during that season. Don’t let guilt or self-imposed pressure get in the way of caring for yourself!
Simplify daily life tasks that take up time.
While I was very busy with my business, my husband was also very busy finishing up his semester of grad school and studying for finals. I’m the primary food-provider for our family – when life is “normal”, I enjoy planning food for the week and making dinner most nights. However, when we were both super busy, what we were going to eat for dinner was at the bottom of the list of things I was thinking about. We decided to give one of the meal-kit delivery services a try and ended up really enjoying it! There’s a few options out there, if you’re interested. We did a 3-dinner plan, so we had dinners mostly covered from week to week. It was really nice to simplify my grocery shopping (just needed to buy for breakfast and lunch) and to not be wasteful with food for those few weeks that we did it.
Being able to automate a daily task like that was a big help for me. It was one less thing to think about and cause stress between the two of us!
Other things you could “outsource”/automate (depending on your budget): hiring a cleaning service to clean your home, a laundry service, have groceries delivered, and more!
Keep things in perspective.
Or at the very least, try to! While there are a lot of physical things that can be done to help manage stress, the most important is my mental state. When I’m feeling bogged down physically by the amount of work before me, I usually feel bogged down mentally. I’m the type of person that can easily see the negative in things – it’s something I’m working on, but it’s just who I am. Instead of always feeling grateful and excited about the busyness (again, being busy in my line of work is a great thing!), I would often focus on my tiredness, sore muscles, or something else negative. Whenever I was feeling super overwhelmed and like I wasn’t going to ever get through, I had to do a mental check-in with myself and shift my thoughts back into perspective. Everything lasts for just a season. Everything. I took comfort in knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel and I would get through it, I just needed to be patient and work hard!
These coping mechanisms that I’ve shared aren’t just for when I’m stressed about work – I use them for any stressors in my life. There are times when work is going smoothly, but other things in life aren’t, so I utilize these. Everyone is different, so your stress management may look a little or a lot different than mine. The most important thing is finding ways to manage it that work well for you, so that you keep yourself healthy and positive.