How keep calm and non-stressed during the busiest time of year for hairstylists

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It was December 30th, 2015. I was sitting on my couch balling my eyes out wondering what I was going to do. I couldn’t go on like this. I wanted to quit.

I had just gotten home from a long and stressful day at the salon. Christmas had come and gone and I had finished yet another crazy holiday season. I only gave myself 2 days off to enjoy Christmas and rest, but as we all know, there’s no resting when you have to go from house to house visiting family. In most cases, that can be even more exhausting than being at the salon. After Christmas was over, I went straight back into work. No break. No rest. No recharging. Just back to the grind.

2015 was a crazy year. I had left the salon I had worked at for 5 years and opened a studio with no down time in between. I had worked over 14 hour days just to open my space and after I opened, I kept pounding the pavement working. I was working 5 days a week in the salon and running errands and all the other “fun” things salon and studio owners get to do on their “days off”. I didn’t know what balance was and I thought I was doing fine. But after the holiday rush, the entire year rushed over me and I was exhausted to say the least.

That’s when I found myself on my couch crying my eyes out to my husband saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” I don’t know what tipped me over the edge. Maybe it was a client who canceled their appointment last minute, or a client who needed to reschedule for the 4th time, or a client who was mad because I couldn’t squeeze them in for a “quick appointment” even though I had been booked up for weeks. Whatever it was, I was OVER IT.

Once the tears stopped, he asked me, “What do you want to do if you didn’t do hair?” I didn’t have an answer. I guess I didn’t really want to stop doing hair, I just wanted all of my problems to go away. Who doesn’t, right?! But I realized that I actually loved my job, I just didn’t love it at that moment. I had worked myself to the bone and didn’t give myself any recovery time. I was burnt out.

On new years day, I went to the beach and sat down with a journal. I made a promise to myself that I would take a week off after Christmas next year in order to recharge and rest. And I did. And guys, it was SO worth it! In fact, this year, I have actually decided to take 3 weeks off after Christmas! And I can’t wait, I’m counting down the days!

As a hairstylist, we have the important job of making people feel their best, especially around the holidays, but at what expense?

We all know or have been the hairstylist who has felt stressed and overworked this time of year.

Over the last couple years after the burn out episode, I decided to set myself up for success around the holidays, so that doesn’t happen again. Here are some ways that I keep myself balanced and calm:

1. Prep your day

Over the past few years I’ve shown up at least 15-30 mins early to work every day during the holidays. I make sure the coffee is ready to brew, the water is hot for tea. I prepare foils and get formulas written out per client. I think about what each client may need this time; clear glaze or conditioning treatment? A few more highlights towards the face? I set the music to something that relaxes me before I even open the doors for business (unless I’m tired, then you better believe it’s Pentatonix Holiday or Justin Beiber Holiday stations and I’m dancing around doing these daily tasks).

I’ve shown up with less time to do these things a few times of course. I see my client walking in at the same time as me. Or I open the door and turn on the lights and I see them parking in the parking lot. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but my whole day from that first client often feels rushed. Spending time to even find her formula, then tearing foils and setting the music while she is sitting there and I’m wasting time affects my entire day.

Just setting aside that 30 minutes to help my day feel more fluid and less stressful is all often all I need to feel ready and prepared for my day. Sure things can go wrong that are out of your control, like a client showing up late, but since you’ve already torn those foils you needed and have thought about her add-ons, you’ve done everything you can to prepare ahead of time to make every minute worth while.

2. Schedule time to eat

Did you just read that and feel like you were being challenged to do the impossible? I’ve been there. Why would I schedule time to eat when I could fill that spot with a haircut? I’m hungry, but look how good their hair looks!

Once I started scheduling time to eat (especially this time of year) I realized how often I was walking around hangry (angry hungry). My patience for that toner was short… and well, my patience for everything else was too. Hanger is NOT something to mess with, people! Hanger can turn even the sweetest hairstylist’s into short and hot tempered responses. Even if you are scheduling 15 minutes in-between clients or a base color, you should schedule time to sit down (I know) and eat (I know, I know).

This year, I’ve been having my assistant shampoo all of my clients, so that I can sit down for even just 10 mins. Taking a bite of food, drinking some water, and resting your feet will make a world of difference.

3. Don’t overbook yourself

If you’ve been following along for a while now, you’ve heard me say this a lot this time of year. It’s so important to not overbook yourself and you better believe I’m going to keep reminding you! If you’re anything like me, you want everyone to be happy. You want your clients to love only you and never go anywhere else ever again. However, if you are overbooking yourself, you aren’t doing anybody any favors. I used to tack clients on at the beginning or end of my day, and guess what? They had no idea I canceled dinner plans with my husband to retouch their base color… but I knew and they could tell I wasn’t 100% there in the room. In my mind I was at that dinner, or running those errands that I had to put off.

Your clients love you because you do a great job, obviously, but they also love the experience you give them while they are in the chair. THAT’s why they come back to you time and time again. If you can’t give them you 100%  then you really aren’t being fair to yourself, or to them who are paying you.

 

4. Schedule Time off after the Holidays

Like I mentioned above, I am taking 3 weeks off after Christmas. Now, I know most of you can’t do that, but if you can schedule an extra day or two after the holidays to wind down and recharge, you NEED to. I can’t tell you how much having that week after Christmas off helped my mental sanity last year. I was able to rest. I was able to plan for the coming year. And most importantly, I was able to recharge my body and my mind.

So get out you calendar right now and block off one or two days on your schedule for you time. We have HARD jobs as stylists and we need that time to refresh ourselves.

 

I hope this list of tips helped give you a little permission to take care of you this holiday season. You can pour out of an empty cup, so make sure you are filling up your cup so that you can keep giving back to others.

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