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If you’re a business owner who’s always on the go, it can be difficult to take time off during the holiday season and just unwind. However, most of us realize burnout is a real threat to our health and wellbeing if we don’t slow down. Besides, taking a break is essential to help you to recharge and renew your enthusiasm and vigor for the coming year ahead.
Let’s look at how you can change your attitude towards work and not let feelings of guilt and negativity permeate your well-deserved break this holiday season.
Train your brain to think positive
Happiness can be elusive and you may think you’re either born with a happy disposition or not. But did you know that happiness is actually something that is within your own control? All you have to do is rewire your mammal brain.
According to Loretta Breuning, the human brain isn’t genetically wired for happiness. We have to work at releasing the ‘happy feelings’ – dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin – because these serve a survival need rather than just being there all the time to make us feel good.
In her article ‘How to train your brain to go positive’ she talks about how our mammal brain is wired to naturally look for problems because, for our ancestors, problems meant danger and a threat to life.
To stop yourself feeling bad all the time and looking for problems and negativity, you need to train your brain to look for positives the way it is already trained to look for negatives.
Loretta’s advice? Spend one minute three times a day, for 45 days looking for positives to build a positivity circuit. This rewires your brain to focus on the positives in your life rather than negatives. Why not start this training during the holidays and come back to work with a renewed optimism for the year ahead?
Adjust your thinking around work-life balance
Justin Kulla thinks that trying to achieve a 50-50 split for your work life balance is unachievable as a small business owner. In fact, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you try to attain this, especially when you’re first starting out. Sometimes, he says, you have to work long hours to set yourself up for success, so the split might look something like 80-20 at the beginning, with an aim to move towards 40-60 in the future.
During the holidays think about what work life balance means for you and your small business. Does it consist of working solidly throughout the year with a two week digital detox at Christmas? Or just taking the public holidays off at Christmas with a long weekend every month during the year to re-energize? It’s about setting up whatever works for you, and sticking to it no matter what the ‘norm’ is.
“How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?”
How to slow down and destress
Being too busy is the disease of modern society. Everyone it seems is too busy to connect face-to-face, to have a proper conversation. They’d rather spend time scrolling on their devices or book in time with us months in advance.
But as Omid Safi wonders in his excellent article “How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?”
We can apply this to our working life. It’s easy to confuse ‘busyness’ with ‘productivity’ when in fact multitasking left, right and center, and not achieving anything, is actually counterproductive.
If you find yourself getting stressed at work, try these tips in the new year for slowing down and taking a breather:
- Do one thing at a time and do it well, don’t multitask even if you feel tempted to.
- Double the amount of estimated time to complete a task so you have enough time to get it done.
- Take a 5 to 10 minute walk around the block to clear your head, get some fresh air and focus on the moment.
- Breathe more optimally – take just 10 minutes out of your busy day to meditate using the Calm app, and you’ll feel much more centered and positive.
- Remember that it’s just work, not a matter of life and death. If you don’t complete a task it will still be there waiting for you tomorrow, so shut down your computer at a reasonable hour and spend the evening with your family instead.
If you are feeling burnt out then it’s important to practice self-care and seek ways to nurture yourself. Christmas is the one time of year that you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time off, everyone else around you will be taking the chance to do so!
Think back over the year and note the goals you’ve reached and all the hours you’ve spent working to achieve them. If you’ve put in the time, and you’re in a good place, you don’t need to feel even a smidgen of guilt about enjoying time with friends and family.
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