End of Busy Season Blues [a time for rest & reflection]

December 18, 2022 |
An artist sits at her desk partially illuminated by the window. She is mostly a silhouette swallowed up by the darkness.

The end of the busy season approaches. It hits at different times for all of us. For some, the quiet may come mid December, for others, the season might stretch to January or even February.  But most small business owners have one thing in common: eventually the madness of the holiday season dies down and things get quiet.  For some folks, it gets really quiet.  It might feel like a much needed break one moment, and kind of a depressing letdown the next.  It’s not just you.  The End of Busy Season Blues are legit, and knowing that you aren’t alone in these feelings can help you navigate them.

An artist works on ceramics while wearing a dark apron. She wipes her forehead with hands caked with clay.

The lead up

You’ve worked your butt off all year long to prep for the busy season, those festive holidays when everyone is ready to shop until they drop.  You’ve stocked inventory, you’ve booked events, you’ve managed your own marketing–the work is both thrilling and exhausting.  Much of November and December is one big, hectic high, trying to do all the things and capitalize on any gains that might be available to you and your small business.  You’ve networked, you’ve made sales, you’ve made notes for next year, and then suddenly… silence.

and empty artist supply box lies on the floor of a studio while the artist themself glances out the window

The quiet

In almost the blink of an eye, you’ve gone from utter chaos to quiet.  You’ve got spare time–you hardly remembered what that felt like.  You know you should be prepping for the next round, but you’re exhausted.  The holidays come with their own personal obligations, and you’ve still got plenty to do, but everything feels off kilter.  Do your weekends actually belong to you again?  You’ve been running full steam for so long, it feels really bizarre to idle. 

It can take a while to adjust to this new normal, and that gray area in between busy and acceptance can feel a bit depressing. You aren’t alone.  You’ve been partially fueled by adrenaline for a while now, and when that disappears, the dopamine crash isn’t too far behind. 


An artist sits looking out her studio window in quiet reflection

The analysis

You might first turn to overanalyzing your last few months and wondering if you did everything you could.  Did you maximize your sales?  Did you do enough on social media? Did you do too much?  Your brain is used to being busy, and without an external source of chaos, it looks within.  Reflection and positive criticism is incredibly helpful, but resist the temptation to nitpick or tear yourself down. 

You did great.  Really.  You worked so very hard, and you did the best you could for that version of you in that moment in time.  That was all anyone could ask of you, and that is all you should ask of yourself.  Try to feel that sunshine on your face.  You made it to the other side.  The imbalance you may feel now is all part of the adjustment process, and there is peace to be found beyond this phase. 

An artist stands over her workspace as she molds clay with her muddied hands.

Reflection

Whatever areas of improvement you picked up on during your analysis, look upon these as the building blocks that will reinforce and form the foundation for your experiences for the new year.  You may feel like the same person, but I can assure you that you have changed.  Every little experience, every hardship, every struggle took an area of inexperience and rearranged it into an expertise.  You  have leveled up, my friend.  Welcome to the next chapter. 


A fire burns in the fireplace while a person cuddles up in blankets and a cup of hot cocoa

Treat yo self

I know the holidays are busy.  I know you’ve got a million things you need to catch up on, a million things you want to do differently for the new year.  We are told there is no rest in success. “Keep pushing forward, go go go!” But this your small business–you don’t have to build it on foundation of stress and fatigue.  Add your ideas to a list that you can keep somewhere safe and promise me one thing: you will take a moment to rest and re-energize before you start going through it. 

You have worked hard. You have done great. You DESERVE a moment of rest.  If you refuse this vital, regenerative moment of peace and reflection, you are begging for a burnout.  It happens to everyone, but it doesn’t have to happen to you–not right now, not like this. 

An artist sits in the floor of her studio. The studio is pretty bare and there is a quiet, empty vibe.

This too shall pass

Those End of Busy Season Blues balance out the chaos of the holiday season, but they won’t last forever.  Give those brain chemicals a minute to restructure and listen to what they are trying to tell you:  It’s time for a break. Take care of yourself the same way you would advise a friend to prioritize self care.  Give yourself that grace.  I promise your mental health is worth the wait.

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An artist sits at her desk partially illuminated by the window. She is mostly a silhouette swallowed up by the darkness. Text reads "end of season blues, a time for rest and reflection"

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Originally posted on December 18, 2022.

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