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How to Handle Financial Stress During the Holidays

The holiday season is here. While this is a joyous time for a lot of people, it can also be a very stressful one. There are a lot of reasons for holiday stress. This is a very busy this time of year and there are many different social obligations to attend. However, one of the main causes of holiday stress is money.

There are a lot of costs at this time of year, including food, clothing, decorations, gifts, travel, and much more. These costs can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Here are some tips for coping with holiday stress.

Have a Plan

One reason for stress is feeling that you are out of control. If you’re scrambling around, trying to run between stores, fearful that you’ll forget something, this leads to stress. It’s also stressful when you worry with each purchase, unsure if you’re able to afford it.

To reduce stress, sit down and make a plan. Write down everything you need to purchase. Estimate costs. Figure out how to make everything fit into a budget. If there are items that don’t fit, rank what you need to buy and spend less on expenses that aren’t as important. Having a plan reduces stress.

Suggest a Gift Exchange

Buying a present (or two, or more) for every one of your friends and family can be expensive and stressful. Instead, consider a gift exchange. Draw names and each of you becomes responsible for buying a present for only one other person. Everyone still gets a gift, but you don’t need to stress out about buying a whole bunch of them.

Shop Early

There are a number of advantages to shopping early. Not only does it give you the opportunity to shop around, compare prices, and choose gifts without being worried about a time crunch, but it also means you can hit the mall before it gets overcrowded.

Avoid Stressors

Avoiding crowded malls is one great way to deal with holiday stress. In fact, if you feel stressed out around the holidays, it can be in your best interest to try to avoid as many stressors as possible. In addition to visiting the mall during a less busy time, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to shop. When you’re in a hurry, you’re naturally more stressed.

Avoiding stressful situations won’t give you any additional money to spend during the holidays, but it will reduce your overall stress levels, which can make it easier to cope with life’s challenges. You might find that you’re able to better manage your finances when you’re not stressed out and anxious.

Be Open

A lot of the stress we feel around this time is caused by the expectations we believe other people have of us. If you properly set their expectations, you’ll reduce your stress.

If your budget won’t allow you to go all out on gifts this year, be honest with your loved ones. Tell your sister or your best friend that you’re not going to spend much on gifts this year, but that you definitely still want to spend time with them. Offer to babysit for them, clean their car, or make them a fancy dinner instead of a gift. They’ll appreciate the gesture and you’ll show them that you care.

If you have children, you may want to let them know that there might be fewer gifts this year, but that they’re still going to have a great holiday season, surrounded by friends and family. Let them know that the number of gifts they receive has nothing to do with them as people.

Stay Connected

If you’re buying fewer gifts this year, or if you’re not spending as much on food, decorations, and clothing, it’s tempting to isolate yourself during this season. You might feel like you can’t properly celebrate without all of the purchases you’re used to, so you may want to opt out of a lot of celebrations. However, this just increases your stress and anxiety levels.

Try to do your best to spend time with family and friends, regardless of how much you’re spending this season. Focus on the aspects of the holidays that don’t depend on your budget, such as religious beliefs or spending time with those you care about. This will allow you to have an enjoyable holiday season no matter what.