Awareness Wednesday: Beating Holiday Stress

It’s the most wonderful … stressful time of the year?

We build up the holiday season all year long, but once it’s here, the stress can be a little more than we bargained for. Whether the issue is friends and family, high expectations, or money, there are a few simple steps you can take to make the season a little brighter. These are some of the things that I recommend to beat holiday stress:

  1. Mentally prepare
  2. Adjust your attitude
  3. Lower expectations
  4. Make new traditions
  5. Give experiences!

Friends & Family

The holidays have a way of putting us in a variety of social situations with people we haven’t seen in a long time. It may be impossible to avoid being bombarded with personal questions, but you can mentally prepare yourself with responses to the questions that you know you’re going to be asked: questions about significant others or the status of a job search are quite popular… Knowing how you’re going answer the tough questions ahead of time will save you from getting caught off guard by the punch bowl.

This time of year we may also be seeing a lot of people that tend to get on our nerves after a while. Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. At this point, there may not be a lot that you can do to change your bossy mother-in-law or your nosy uncle, so the best way to deal with it is to change your attitude about seeing them. Accept those family members as they are, grin and bear it, and hope that you don’t have to see them again until next year.

High Expectations

Speaking of mentally preparing and attitude adjustments, the holidays can be a time of high expectations and visions of perfection that we unnecessarily impose on ourselves. I’m a bit of a perfectionist myself and I love the idea of every Christmas being exactly as I remember it from when I was little, but it can be hard to enjoy quality time with your family if you’re obsessing over every little detail of holiday traditions. I find that it’s easiest to just live in the moment and recognize that every year will be a little different than the last: there’s always an opportunity to make new traditions as the family grows or as the dynamics change. Plus, few people will notice (or care, I hope) if your gift-wrapping skills haven’t improved since you were 12–Right, Mom?

Money

Between decorations, gifts, and holiday gatherings, our financial situation can diminish rather quickly over the holiday season. Most peoples’ go-to solution for a tight holiday budget is to give homemade gifts… but what if you’re not crafty or don’t have time to bake dozens of cookies? Over time, I’ve found that some of the best gifts I’ve ever given or received were experiences. The promise of taking someone out to dinner, inviting them to your home for a relaxing movie night, or offering to babysit the kids is much more memorable than some generic candles anybody can find at Target. You’ll end up spending less than you would on traditional gifts, you get to participate in the fun if you choose, AND the IOU can buy you time until your next pay check.

Click here for few more ways to make the holidays happier!

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