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Beating Holiday Stress

Do the holidays conjure up images of relaxed family time around the Christmas tree?  Or do you think of crowded shopping malls, long lines, and no parking spots?  We often have high hopes for the perfect family holiday complete with stockings hung over the fireplace, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and brightly decorated cookies.  But all too often the reality of all we have to do simply wears us out.  We’re so preoccupied with trying to do it all that we miss out on the fun and enjoyment of the holidays.  We end up feeling fatigued and overwhelmed.  By the time January 2nd rolls around, we’re grateful the holidays are over.

 How can you beat holiday stress and still enjoy the holidays?  Here are several causes and cures for holiday stress.

 High Expectations

Do you have unrealistic expectations?  Because we want everything to be perfect, we put undue pressure on ourselves.  And when the holiday doesn’t live up to our expectations we’re sorely disappointed. 

 Take a moment to pause and reflect on your purpose for celebrating the holiday.  What is the most important reason?  Is it about giving?  Or is it about family time?  Keep your purpose in mind as you plan for the holidays.  Focus on the most important and let go of the rest.

Overload

We all lead busy and full lives.  During the holidays there’s even more to do in addition to our regular responsibilities.  Writing Christmas cards, shopping, decorating, entertaining, baking, and attending parties can leave us feeling overwhelmed. 

Keep your focus in mind and simplify.  If spending time with your family is most important, do you need to buy gifts for every family member?  If you come from a large family like I do, consider drawing names as opposed to giving gifts to everyone in your family.  Get a Christmas list from family members, so you don’t spend unnecessary time browsing stores looking for that “perfect gift”.  Do your shopping online to avoid crowds at the mall.  Avoid the holiday rush by shopping early.  

Do you need to send Christmas cards to everyone you know or can you pare down your list?  After all, do you really need to send a card to your hairdresser, your doctor, and your child’s teacher?  Bring your cards with you so when you spend time waiting (for a meeting, a doctor’s appointment, etc.), you can use that time to address Christmas cards.     

 Overspending

Americans oftentimes spend beyond their means on holiday gifts.  Many charge all their gifts and go into debt.  This creates undue financial stress when the bills come due. 

 Set a realistic budget for how much you’ll spend on Christmas and stick to it. Besides, as they say, “It’s the thought that counts”.  Prepare for next year by setting up a Christmas fund that you contribute to each month.  That way you won’t feel the financial crunch around the holidays. 

 By setting realistic expectations, simplifying, and sticking to your budget you’ll be able to beat holiday stress and truly enjoy the holidays!

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