The financial burden of the holidays can create excessive stress during a season intended to be full of joy, connection and generosity. Polls show that almost 90% of Americans feel some kind of anxiety or stress about the holidays.1 According to a survey done by the American Psychological Association, money and finances are the number one cause of stress for Americans.2
Mixing the two, holiday expectations with financial obligations, can take a toll on your emotional well-being.
Here are some useful tips to help reduce financial stress during the holidays.
1. Make a Spending Plan
Whether you call it a budget or a spending plan, knowing where your money goes decreases stress because it reduces surprises. Budgets help to manage and prioritize what’s most important to you. The key during the holidays is that your budget is comprehensive. Make sure to not only allow funds for gifts but also for the additional food, travel, parties, and charitable donations that happens during this time of year. No plan is perfect but with a more conscious approach to spending, you’ll feel more in control.
2. Reduce Gift Anxiety
Gift-giving can be a source of intense uneasiness. What does she want? What will he use? What do I get the person who has everything or can afford anything? What won’t be a waste of money? Will it arrive on time? And then there is the fear of gift-giving imbalance. What if one person gets more? What if the gift I give is of less monetary value than the one I receive? The pressure to measure up or impress can make the holiday gift exchange feel like a competition, but there are solutions.
- Ask: Though some will think, it doesn’t count if you had to ask, you’d be surprised by how many will just tell you what they’d like to receive and you could be surprised by their answer. It could be something you would have never imagined. Or perhaps, they prefer an experience (like spending quality time with you) than a material item. You will either find out what they truly desire or you’ll find out that they would rather be surprised. Regardless, you are getting quality information and the more details you get the less you have to guess and stress (and possibly spend).
- Divide and Conquer: If you come from a big family or have a large network of friends, consider doing a Secret Santa gift exchange. Not only will it save you money, but also time, mental strain, and emotional stress. Additionally, potlucks where dishes are assigned and the kids are given the task of either making crafts or organizing games can help share the load of needing to pay for it all and do everything yourself.
- Be Creative: Make a coupon book with vouchers that the recipient can use for activities you can do for them. For someone you live with, it could be doing a chore they do for themselves or for the household. Examples: “This coupon is good for…” one free foot rub, a load of laundry, or to walk the dog when it’s raining. For a co-worker, the coupons could be making a fresh pot of coffee in the morning or running out to pick up the lunch order for the team. Again, if you ask them what they would like from you, this information will help you create coupons they’d actually use and appreciate.
3. Prioritize Self-Care
Whether it’s financial stress, professional stress, or general stress, self-care can be just the remedy that makes you feel better. It may not be the best time to spend money on massages and spa treatments but there are plenty of no-cost ways to care for ourselves, like taking a bubble bath or doing a [su_permalink id=”1579″ target=”blank”]3 minute meditation[/su_permalink]. Other inexpensive ways to relax and release tension while enjoying the specialness of this season are watching holiday movies, caroling, sledding, recounting favorite holiday memories, and touring neighborhoods with festive lights and decorations.
4. Ask for Help
If you find that the stress is only intensifying and you see no relief in sight, consider speaking to a professional. AbleTo helps people learn to manage stress and anxiety regardless of the season. We provide therapy and coaching sessions from the comfort, privacy, and convenience of your own home at the time (day or night) that works best for your schedule. In many cases, AbleTo is covered by your insurance with little to no out-of-pocket expense.
AbleTo helps people with chronic medical conditions like diabetes relieve the stress, anxiety and depression that can come with complex life situations. Whether it’s the holidays or daily life, we teach people practical, effective skills that have them feel better and live better.