Although, it can be irritating to see Christmas items fill the seasonal isles in the stores so early, as the weather starts to change many people are reminded of the fast approaching holiday season. Though the holiday season is supposed to be filled with happiness and joy, it is often a time of stress for many people. Planning for visiting relatives, meals, Christmas presents, and budgets can be overwhelming for most of us. However, there are many ways to reduce the amount of anxiety that comes from the upcoming holidays.
Take Time for Yourself
The most important thing to realize when trying to get through the holiday season is that it is completely normal to experience anxiety related to the approaching holidays. Very few people breeze through the season without some form of stress. Understanding that it is normal and there are solutions to avoiding undue stress will help you better get through the holidays. The second most important thing to remember is to take time for yourself. The holiday season is one for giving, but that doesn’t mean taking from yourself. It important to maintain a sense of normalcy for yourself throughout the upcoming months to reduce the amount of stress you feel. Maintaining a regular exercise program is an excellent tool to help you breeze through the holiday season. If you currently have a regular exercise regimen, keeping on track with it will keep your spirits up throughout the months. If you do not have a program, fitting one into your schedule will be immensely beneficial. Exercise can reduce stress levels, increase sleep quality, and help you relax. In addition, exercising during the holiday season can help mediate the extra pounds that many people are known to gain throughout the season. Setting apart time for yourself on a daily basis will help ensure your health and happiness throughout the stressful time.
Plan (and Stick to) a Budget
One of the most stressful parts of the holiday season for many people is the financial aspect. Buying gifts, planning out-of-town visits to relatives, and holiday parties can come with an enormous price tag. These expenses, unfortunately, are usually not avoidable. However, it does not have to be as stressful. By creating a budget for the holiday season you can manage your expenses effectively. Making sure you create a budget that you can afford is the first effective step you can take towards reducing your financial stress. Once you’ve established a maximum budget, you must stick to it no matter what.
- For Gifts: Gift giving can be the most expensive part of the holiday season, so creating a financial plan can ensure that you do not overspend. Write down the names of every one you plan on giving a gift too. Then, write down the amount of money you are willing to spend on each person. This number can vary depending on the person. For instance, you may not spend as much on your coworker as you would on your mother or children. Look for gifts for each person on your list within your budget, purchase clearance items, and try to spend less if possible. Remember that it truly is the thought that counts, and there are many thoughtful gifts you can give that do not break the bank. Once you’ve established the budget, make sure you do not spend more, no matter how tempting it may be.
- For Parties: The holiday season is usually a busy one. Holiday parties are fun and enjoyable ways to spend time with friends and families. However, holiday parties can also be a stressful addition to the holiday season. If you’ve been invited to multiple parties, you may feel stressed about what to wear, what to bring, or if you even have time to attend. You should include in your overall budget some expenses related to holiday parties. Often times, you may be expected to bring a food item for a potluck, but this doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money- there are a lot of great dishes you can bring that do not require a lot of time or expensive ingredients. Also, it is completely normal to want to buy a new outfit for the holiday season. And, if it makes you happy, you definitely should. Understanding though, that you do not need a new outfit for every holiday party you attend can save you a lot of money on your budget. Purchasing from consignment stores or from the clearance rack of department stores can ensure that you do not spend too much money.
- Traveling: Many people travel out of town for the holiday season to visit family members. For many, the holiday season is the only time of year they spend with their out-of-town relatives. Going out-of-town may be necessary, but managing costs by creating a budget can drastically reduce the financial stress that occurs from spending time out-of-town. Breaking down the budget by lodging, food, and traveling can help you better manage your expenses when travelling out-of-town.
Planning ahead can be the most beneficial thing you can do to reduce your stress. Your holiday planning should start as early as September. Writing down a checklist and keeping it with you can be extremely helpful. On your checklist include names of the people you plan on giving gifts too, the gifts you plan on buying, meal preparation and recipe ideas. You never know when you might find a creative gift for someone on your list, and having a checklist of all the people you need to buy for will help you manage your gift giving. Starting early means you can beat the inflated prices of the holiday season. It also means you may come across excellent sale items. Being prepared, and knowing ahead who are you gifting to means that you can be prepared to purchase reduce priced items way before the holiday season truly starts. And, as an added benefit, there is nothing better than being completely done with your Christmas shopping before December. The most stressful time can be the days and even hours before Christmas, struggling to find the perfect gift. If you plan early, you can avoid that stress altogether and spend those precious days leading up to the holidays during what you are supposed to be doing; spending time with friends and family.
Set apart fifteen minutes a day to go over your list, decide what you have left to do, and mark off the things you’ve already done. Use this fifteen minutes a day to look at coupons, shop online, find recipes, or plan meals. If you start early enough, with just fifteen minutes a day you can have your entire holiday schedule, meals, and gifts planned and purchased before December even comes around.
Purchase greeting cards ahead, as early as September. In your set aside fifteen minutes a day, you can write personalized notes and address the envelopes. Sending greeting cards is thoughtful and kind, and if you purchase them early enough you can save yourself a lot of stress. Trying to get the cards out in time, while managing the rest of the stress of the holidays can be hard. Sending your cards out in November will ensure that they get to all the recipients in time, and give you one less thing to worry about as the holidays approach.
Getting through the holidays can be emotionally draining. Many people dread the upcoming holidays every year. But, the holiday season should be a time of joy. Stress can take all of the fun out of what should be a very enjoyable time. However, getting through the holiday season does not have to be so taxing. With just some simple planning and budgeting you can turn a very hectic time into one that is enjoyable. Planning early, sticking to your budget, and making sure you spend time on yourself will help you get through what many people dread with ease.