Tips for coping with stress during the holidays


The holidays are quickly approaching and — for a freelancer — that means trying to navigate the weird world where clients are away on holidays, where family is getting together for holidays, and how to not spontaneously implode in on oneself like a dying star.

Maybe we’re being dramatic.

The truth is, the holidays are stressful for a plethora of reasons, which happen to be magnified when you’re a freelancer. Money can get tight at a time of year when the expectation is that you adorn loved ones with expensive gifts. It’s also smack-dab in the middle of flu season where one errant cough on the subway can sideline you for weeks. Being stressed doesn’t help; it actually lowers your immune system’s defenses and makes you more susceptible to getting sick.

So what’s a freelancer to do to keep from freaking out this holiday season? We have a few tricks up our sleep to keep things looking aces through the New Year.

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1. Plan your budget

If you’ve been in business for a few years, you probably have a handle on how things are going to pan out during different seasons of the year. You might have a “busy season” or a “slow season” or it might be unpredictable year-round. If you’re new to self-employment, you may not even know where to start to get a handle on finances. New or old, planning a holiday budget can be helpful. For one, it can help you get your finances in order if that’s something you’ve been slacking on earlier in the year. It can also give you an idea about what your income looks like, how much you’ll owe in taxes, what your net take home will be and how much extra you may or may not have to splurge on gifts.

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2. Invest in a calendar

Sounds cheesy and old school, but we promise this one can make a big difference. Programming events and reminders into your smartphone can be handy, but it’s a whole different ball game to get a 360-degree, birds-eye view of all the events and commitments you have coming up. Having and maintaining a physical calendar can keep you organized so you don’t miss out on important holiday events, but it can also make it easier for you to say “no” before you become overbooked and stressed. Remember, extra stress means you have a greater chance of getting sick. Just say no to that fourth Grinch-themed Christmas party and opt to spend some time in for self-care.

3. Get physical

Exercise can be a positive way to beat stress and help combat those extra holiday pounds that seem to lurk around (I see you behind those chocolate chip cookies with bell-shaped icing!). Pick an activity that you like — running, skiing, yoga, bicycling, walking, lifting weights, swimming, dancing — and get to it! Why? Because exercise pumps up your endorphins, those feel-good neurotransmitters that give your mood a boost. It also helps you melt away pesky thoughts about the day’s irritations and helps you to focus instead on the movement of your body. Exercise also helps regulate and improve the quality of your sleep. We can all benefit from a few extra Zzzs during the chaotic holidays.

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4. See your doctor

A pre-emptive strike against sickness is the best kind. Make an appointment to see your doctor before you become bed-bound so you can stay ahead of flu and cold season. While most people avoid heading to the doctor, we think it’s a benefit to see him or her as much as possible. For one, it’s important to keep tabs on your health year-round so you can identify any issues early and often, but also to be sure that you continue to stay healthy. A solid relationship with a primary care doctor you trust is important — and it can come in handy during the busy holidays. Your doctor may be able to suggest some supplements or vitamins to keep you in tip-top shape. S/he may also be able to help you come up with a game plan to maintain your health through the stress of the holidays. This might include a reasonable exercise plan, a recommended diet, and how to get the right amount of sleep.

Did You Know? All of Decent’s health plans offer free visits with your dedicated primary care doctor. That means holiday season or not, you can see your doctor as often as you want or need with ZERO out-of-pocket costs. No charge whatsoever. FREE.

Whether you have a jam-packed social calendar, cross-country travel, or a lot of catching up on administrative tasks planned, you don’t have to lose your head this holiday season. Take small but important steps to get organized and prioritize your well-being, and you’ll head into the new year with a happy, healthy heart. Happy Holidays!

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