The holiday season is almost here, and with it comes a much needed break. Small business owners find it notoriously difficult to switch off – and if you can be found glued to your work phone until the sunset on Christmas Eve, you’re not alone. Whether you’re afraid of disappointing clients and losing work, or have merged your business and personal social media accounts, many of us are guilty of working over the holidays. But we know that burnout is a major issue, and that we can’t work at full pelt 100% of the time. This year, it’s time to do things differently. 

We chatted to our wise and wonderful community members to get their best tips of stepping away from work over Christmas. Here’s what they had to say.

Prep in advance

Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of a week without emails? Start prepping early. Once you’ve decided your Christmas ‘opening hours’ (even if you’re an online business), make sure you start communicating them with clients. If you work with people on a weekly basis, you could already get your first meeting of the new year pencilled in. Let the people you work with know that you won’t be contactable after a certain date, so they can adjust their schedules accordingly. Once the special day comes, set that OOO and log out!

Use your time wisely (if you feel like it)

While you should be taking a nice break over the festive period, you might also want to take advantage of the stillness and break from your usual routine. “I love doing a business SWOT analysis during Christmas downtime,” says Deborah Edwards, founder of Raised Up. “A swot analysis is a business tool that has been around for a really long time and stands for Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats. I really like it because it’s super simple, doesn’t take long and when I look back and reflect on previous years, I can see how much progress I made. Most importantly, it means that I get everything off my brain, ready to be explored next year. This leaves me free to properly rest and relax.” Then again, if you’d rather lie on the couch watching Love Actually with a bag of giant chocolate buttons, then go right ahead.

Allow space for the transition

December is a hectic month for many of us, with Christmas parties, last-minute client meetings and Nativity plays coming at us a mile a minute. It’s totally unrealistic to expect ourselves to go from 100 to 0 overnight once we stop for the holidays – we’re much better off transitioning into our downtime. “When we stop work for the holidays, we expect ourselves to be instantly relaxed, but it doesn’t work that way,” says Helen Calvert, founder of Clear Day. “We need to plan in transition time where we allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable about the lack of activity. We even need to allow our minds to get used to not constantly checking the phone! Instead of going straight from work to family time, try to plan a walk, a yoga class, or some form of alone time. Whatever helps you to decompress and to come to a place of relaxation gradually.” Once you feel calm and relaxed, you can properly enjoy the holiday period, distraction-free. 

Design your home to support you

It’s almost impossible to relax if your work email is beeping non-stop. Make sure all your notifications are turned off, and if you can, go one step further by storing your devices and work clutter away. After all, you won’t be using it for a few days, so it should be fine tucked away at the back of the pantry/ in the garage/ wherever you won’t be tempted to peek. The same goes for your notebooks and anything else you use for work. If you’ve usually got a ring light or phone tripod set up at the side of your desk, take the time to dismantle it for the holidays. It’s as psychological as it is practical! “If you don’t have a separate office space in your home, then consider investing in a piece of furniture that can store all of your work things,” advises Kaye Preston, a holistic health coach and interior designer. “Equally as important as creating office space is designing spaces in which you can really relax.”

Give your immune system a boost

We’ve all been there: you’ve been looking forward to the Christmas break for weeks, and the day it finally arrives, BAM! You’re struck down with the mother of all colds. “It happens so often,” says Daisy Connor, founder of City Survivor. “If we’re stressed and then take time out, we can instantly get a cold.” Plan ahead this year by boosting your immune system in the weeks leading up to the break. Consider taking supplements like City Survivor’s Immune Support – it won Best Immunity Supplement at the Beauty Shortlist Wellbeing Awards! – to stop a cold in its tracks. Prioritise sleep (yes, even amongst all those Christmas parties), and try to build in some rest time. 

There’s no point in pushing yourself to breaking point in the run-up to Christmas – and that means physically as well as mentally. After all, stress is not good for us at all. “Inflammation doesn’t just come from food intolerances – there’s past emotional trauma and environmental stressors,” says Abi Adams, a movement, menstruation and mindset specialist. Similarly, “sometimes pushing yourself hard at the gym can be pushing you further away from your health.” The message? Don’t go too hard at work and the gym in advance of the holidays. 

Make a plan for when you get back

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of your to-do list once January comes around, you might benefit from making a post-holiday work plan. Keep a list of your major priorities for the new year, including client deadlines and anything else that’s playing on your mind. Start blocking off time in your calendar in January to work on a project you know you’ve got coming up, and be mindful of making promises to clients. It’s all too easy to tell someone you’ll have something with them by the first week of January, only to find yourself regretting it in the days after New Year… Take it slow, create a solid overview of what you’ve got coming up, and don’t rush into any new projects without really thinking about whether you’ve got time. Once you’ve tied up your loose ends and made sure you’re comfortable with what’s to come post-Christmas, it’s time to kick back and relax! You’ve earned it. 

If you need some extra support in your business, Found & Flourish is here for you. Check out the members hub for replays of our motivating workshops, and if you’re not yet a member, you can sign up to the waitlist here.

Phoebe Dodds

Phoebe Dodds

About your author

Phoebe is Found & Flourish’s resident Business blogger, she is London-born and Frankfurt-, Paris- and Amsterdam-raised. Combining her Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship with 10 years writing for international publications, she’s the founder of BURO155 and Wellby, helping female entrepreneurs achieve their business goals through strategic online content. Phoebe is also a writer, and has written for outlets including the Huffington Post, the Guardian, the Next Web, For Working Ladies and Restless Magazine.


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