A guide for retailers to enjoy the holidays (or at least survive it)
December 3, 2018
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Calling the winter holidays “holidays” is one of the biggest deceptions ever. Because who is on holiday? Not retailers, that’s for sure.
And judging from the tired, harassed faces of consumers, they’re not having the time of their lives either. In fact, many people find themselves stressed out from holiday shopping, end-of-year workload, and family visits.
Stress and overindulgence can even lead to a phenomenon researchers call “Merry Christmas Coronary and Happy New Year Heart Attack.” It seems that nobody really knows how to enjoy the holidays.
But while holiday shopping is nobody’s favorite pastime, the end-of-year shopping season is crucial for retailers. In 2017, Christmas shopping generated $687 billion in the US alone. This year, that number is expected to rise to a whopping $719 billion. An average consumer spends around $1200 on holiday gifts.
In 2017, Christmas shopping generated $687 billion in the US alone. This year, that number is expected to rise to a whopping $719 billion. An average consumer spends around $1200 on holiday gifts.
With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why retailers tend to forget the importance of work-life balance once the holiday shopping season hits.
This is fine for a couple of weeks. A month, even. But trends suggest that the holiday shopping season keeps lengthening. 22% of consumers want to beat the rush and start their Christmas shopping as early as October.
For retailers, that means a three-month long holiday frenzy, with gradually increasing numbers of shoppers and the inevitable problems they bring with them. Staffing issues need to be addressed, shipments dealt with, payments sent and received, not to mention the craze that Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone can cause.
The importance of work life balance
You can’t be on high alert for three whole months without seriously damaging your health (and possibly your personal relationships). But you also can’t allow yourself to miss out on the biggest retail events of the year.
While the issue seems as unsolvable as having your cake and eating it too, there’s something that may help retailers retain their sanity during the holiday shopping season.
Quite the buzzword today, “mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself.” Mindfulness allows you to take a step back from your current situation and examine it without judgment or heavy emotions.
You don’t need to go to a certain place or have specific accessories at your disposal to practice mindfulness. You can do it anytime, anywhere, and for any length of time.
The best thing about mindfulness is its flexibility. You don’t need to go to a certain place or have specific accessories at your disposal to practice mindfulness. You can do it anytime, anywhere, and for any length of time. It’s the perfect two-minute break from your demanding job as a retailer, reminding you that you have a life outside of your business.
The following work life balance tips encourage you to take a couple of minutes each day to get your mind off your problems and recharge your mental energy. Even a few minutes of mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety.
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1. Take breaks
Taking frequent short breaks from your daily routine can help diminish your stress levels and re-energize you for the tasks ahead. Schedule regular two-minute breaks into your day in which you do something other than work.
Watch a funny video, scroll through your personal social media accounts, read a poem, or do anything that pulls you out of your work environment. Don’t think of your responsibilities during your breaks.
But make sure to return to work once your break is over. Don’t let your mindfulness exercise become a distraction at work and a burden to your productivity.
Breathing is essential if you want to remain alive. So essential that most people don’t even notice doing it. But breathing is also the one of most powerful tools to detox your body and lower your stress levels.
At your next break, take a minute to focus on your breathing. Concentrate on how the air flows through your body. If you’re angry, stressed, or anxious, try inhaling while you count to two then exhaling for four counts. Lengthening each exhale lowers your blood pressure and helps you relax.
You have to breathe anyway. Might as well make the best of it.
There are many different breathing exercises developed to reduce stress, get rid of negative thoughts as well as toxins, and replenish energy levels. See what works for you.
Remember that you’re doing this to de-stress yourself. If it doesn’t work at first, don’t get angry. Try again, or pick a different exercise. The point is to give yourself a break from your stressful environment, not to get stressed out over not acing the exercise. You have to breathe anyway. Might as well make the best of it.
On the surface, most customer interactions seem to be the same. A client comes in, examines products, has questions, picks something, pays, and leaves. The next one comes in, and the process repeats itself. Sound tedious? You bet. But there’s something that can help eliminate the boredom.
Regarding a client as a whole person and not just a cause for an inventory update will help you really experience each moment
Observe each customer interaction with interest and compassion. Direct your attention to each client and try to guess what makes them tick. The girl in black boots? Probably hurrying to a college exam. The man with the walking cane? Looking for the perfect present for his grandson.
Regarding a client as a whole person and not just a cause for an inventory update will help you really experience each moment, eliminate the overwhelming feeling of monotony, decrease stress, and diminish the possibility of burnout syndrome.
Human beings are social by nature. Some more than others, but at the end of the day, it’s a basic human need to feel accepted and to belong somewhere.
Your employees experience similar levels of stress to yours. Create a real community at your workplace which encourages team members to take mindfulness breaks as well. Share your work life balance tips, and strengthen their sense of belonging, and you’ll see a stronger, healthier team.
Studies show that a positive workplace culture helps productivity, performance, and lowers employee turnover.
Pay attention to the people around you, regard your world with compassion, and take a moment to find something extraordinary in even the most basic situations.
Just like with clients, make sure to treat your employees with interest and compassion. You don’t need to devise elaborate team-building exercises (at least not in the busy season). A few minutes of conversation at the checkouts between clients, and a joke or a question while restocking the shelves can go a long way in creating a feeling of companionship.
While bringing your business to the next level is certainly an important goal, the holiday season should be about more than numbers. Pay attention to the people around you, regard your world with compassion, and take a moment to find something extraordinary in even the most basic situations.
With a tiny bit of attention, you may just discover how to enjoy the holidays.