Who doesn’t love that feeling when all of their holiday shopping is done, gifts are wrapped, and greeting cards and packages are mailed out? How many of those things have you accomplished yet?

Don’t bother answering that question! According to statista.com, approximately 51% of American’s will still be shopping for the holidays between December 15 – 30. We are a country of procrastinators. To be fair, we are also some of the busiest people in the world, who take less time off from work than most other countries allow.

Holiday Stress

Our lack of self-care when it comes to this very busy time of year is evidenced by the number of last-minute attempts at setting appointments for personal needs, such as hair cuts, hair styling, hair treatments, hair restoration, and hair replacement. It might also be noted that this time of year we have our pictures taken more than any other time. The way we look will be forever imprinted on the pages of photo albums, cell phone cameras, social media and the like. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a picture of yourself that makes you feel bad about how you look. It doesn’t have to be that way.

What does it take to reverse the well-intentioned habit of being there for everyone except ourselves? What can we do to take the much needed time to care for our own needs? How can we stop the cycle of procrastination going forward?

Here is a list of things we need to do to stop procrastinating and focus so we can ensure our own self-care needs are being met:

Holiday To-Do ListMake a list and check it twice. – No, you’re not becoming Santa, you are making sure that nothing is forgotten in the craziness of the holiday season. List everything you are committed to doing, every task you must complete, every person you must shop for, every menu item you must prepare, every end of year business task that needs to be completed, etc. Don’t leave anything out. At this point, you don’t need to deal with logistics, just get everything down on paper.

Break your list into categories and assign deadlines. – For example, have one category for gift buying, another for food preparation, another for events you must attend, another for personal things that need to be done, another for business needs, and so forth. Assign a realistic deadline for each of the things that need to be accomplished. If needed, add in some contingency time to accommodate unexpected bumps in the road.

Create a task list. – For this step, you will need to know the expected timeline for each type of task that must be completed. Do certain tasks depend on other tasks being completed before they can be done? For example, if you are preparing a holiday meal, you must decide on the menu before you can shop for the needed ingredients. Once you have the ingredients, you must determine what can be prepared ahead of time and what must wait until closer to the meal, and so on.

Delegate whenever possible. – Spread the stress, I mean love, around! See who else can help get things done. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Most people want to help but have no idea what you need. They will appreciate contributing and you will have less of the load to carry. Just be sure to give them specific instructions and deadlines. Also, make sure they know that if they run into any issues, timely communication is key!

Create contingency plans or a Plan B. – The motto of this item is ‘be prepared’. What will you do if something doesn’t go the way you planned? What is your back up plan? Even if all you do is jot down a few simple alternative ideas for each category, you’ll be far better prepared if obstacles come your way…and they will! It’s the crazy holiday season, after all.

Make self care a priority! – Why do we feel so guilty when we make ourselves a priority? It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. If we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we be there for anyone else? Even the flight attendants on airplanes tell us to secure our own mask before assisting others with theirs. We can learn a lot from that simple example.

Intentionally schedule a time for yourself. – Don’t wait till the last minute to make appointments at salons, studios, and clinics. If you wait too long, they will be booked or already closed for the holidays. If you are a business owner or stylist/technician and see some open time slots on your calendar, be proactive and call clients who haven’t scheduled yet. Let them know they can still get in before the holidays. Fill your own schedule and release the stress of waiting for the phone to ring. Offer specials if they also schedule their first appointment of the new year at the same time. Whatever it takes to fill your days with productivity, yet still allows you to manage stress, contributes to your well being and is considered self-care.

Salon Happy HolidaysRelax and take a deep breath. – After doing all of the things listed above, you can now relax, take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back and enjoy the fruit of your efforts. Congratulations! You finally put yourself first. Your stress level has gone down to a manageable spike and you are ready to enjoy the holidays. You are one of the very few who have learned that procrastination is not productive or healthy.

Now that you have accomplished a new way of prioritizing and planning, see if you can maintain this throughout the new year. Just think of the example you’ll be setting for others around you. The more you practice doing this, the easier it will become. Making changes isn’t easy, but so worth it in the long run. One thing is for certain, you’ll be glad you did!

Lisa Stewart

Contributing Editor, Lisa Marie Stewart, has 40 plus years of writing, marketing, creative development, Editor-in-Chief, and Creative Director experience. Initially studying journalism and English, and ultimately received a Business Administration and Management B.S. degree with honors.

Ms. Stewart has authored, managed and directed teams at Fortune 500 companies to create corporate policies and procedures, human resource guides, emergency preparedness manuals, technical instructions, articles, newsletters, internal company magazines, retail store transition instruction guides, change orders, year-end financial brochures, website content, social media blogs, and posts.

Additionally, Lisa hosts her own YouTube channel entitled: Living My Best Life