Holidays are synonymous with stress if you're a business owner, and even more so if you are in your first year or two of a startup. I personally struggle with seasonal depression and ADHD (more for another story) so for me to feel grounded during the winter, I need some assistance.
I spoke with a few experts, some doctors and other entrepreneurs about what they do to alleviate their stress - and then I tried it all. It came down to three things I would highly recommend, and have continued to do regularly since my experiment.
I will be honest, I never actually believed that Acupuncture worked until my best friend became one. For me, acupuncture works mostly for my back and neck area where I hold most of my stress and the cupping afterward is better than a deep tissue massage. The bonus about cupping is that it takes 10 - 20 minutes maximum and you feel like a brand new person once it's done.
"Acupuncture has been known to treat high levels of stress, and anxiety related to stress for many years. From a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) standpoint, each organ and their corresponding meridian, has an emotion associated with it. An example of this would be how the liver's emotion is anger. When the Qi (or energy) of the liver is blocked, it can lead to irritability and frustration. It works the other way around, when you're in a constant state of anger, it results in stagnation of your liver Qi.
Acupuncture has been proven to release your body's natural painkillers, Endorphins. A study done in 2013 at Georgetown University Medical Center, showed that rats that received electro-Acupuncture had lowered blood hormone levels from the HPA axis, which is responsible for the neuroendocrine adaptation component of the stress response. Eshkevari, who conducted the study, stated, "We found that electronic acupuncture blocks the chronic, stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones and the sympathetic NPY pathway." - Samantha Manka-Segal, Founder, Clear Balance Acupuncture
2. Craniosacral Massage
Per one of my friends suggestions, I tried a Craniosacral Massage (with a slight modification to include stretching) at OleHenriksen Face/Body Spa in LA. After my session I spoke with the President, Vance Soto about myself and other business owners they see with high-stress jobs. Vance told me, "I often see many entrepreneurs neglect their own care because they are too focused on the work at hand, their team, or building the empire. As a busy entrepreneur myself I get the addiction of the job. But how can you provide opportunities for others and be 100% productive if you aren't taking care of yourself? I love Craniosacral as a form of alternative therapy. Entrepreneurs tend to carry tension and stress in the neck, head, and shoulders, Craniosacral is the belief that tiny manipulations may influence the pressure and circulatory rhythm of cerebrospinal fluid therefore assisting with pressure that causes pain and stress; making it a fantastic remedy for 'start up stress' etc. I don't view massage or alternative therapies as a luxury, but as a necessity in life to keep a happy balance."
This is a common theme here on Inc.com, but I'll admit I was skeptical at first. Everyone I know who does it, swears by it, so I spent one whole week meditating for 2 minutes a day and I noticed a huge difference. I felt calmer walking into my work day, I didn't feel the immediate need to check my phone when I got up each morning and I was less agitated when things would go wrong. I personally have a harder time quieting my brain, but I spoke with a few meditation experts who told me that quieting my brain was less important than letting each thought "pass like a cloud in the sky." My favorite tool will always be Headspace. It doesn't require you to go anywhere and it walks you through the entire process from beginner to expert.