The holidays are a magical time of year for most of us- but that magic often comes with stress that can leave you feeling a little less Buddy the Elf and a bit more Ebenezer Scrooge. Which is why is it important to know how to cope with financial stress during the holiday season!
There are many reasons we get stressed during the holidays. From unrealistic expectations, obligations, financial concerns and missing loved ones to excessive commitments. Even though it is supposed to be the “happiest season of all” we all have a lot coming at us. These common holiday stressors can often lead to anxiety, stress, and depression. Symptoms include difficulty sleeping, headaches, overeating, over drinking, easily agitated and short-tempered.
One major cause of the stress during the holidays is the financial obligations and concerns associated with gifts, parties, decorations and more! In fact, about 1-in-3 Americans went more than $1,000 in debt due to holiday spending. With that statistic in mind it is no wonder that stress is high both during and after the holidays.
So how do we deal with this stress in a way that is healthy? Here are 6 ideas for how to deal with these emotions and still enjoy the holiday season.
How to Cope with Financial Stress this Holiday Season
During the hustle and bustle of the holidays it can be easy to fall in to unhealthy habits like over eating or drinking too much alcohol and not enough water. But don’t throw the diet or exercise plan completely out the window because it’s the holiday season. Continue taking care of yourself by eating right, drinking enough water and staying active.
Spend Time Outside
Bundle up and get some fresh air! Spending time outside helps you process the complexities of life and lets you connect with nature. Spending just 20 minutes outside at a park or on a trail is proven to make you happier!
Do not let the spirit of the holiday whisk you away to the point of over-commitment and financial strain. As you plan for and celebrate your holidays, incorporate a mindful approach to your celebrations that will help keep your stress levels low and your actions intentional.
Start a journal
Writing in a journal helps you self-reflect and relieve stress you experienced throughout your day. Make it a calming ritual by lighting scented candles, brewing some calming tea and turning on some gentle music to ease your mind and relax deeply.
Find a confidant
When times are stressful it can be difficult to deal with all that is going on in your life on your own. Find someone in your community – a friend, family member or therapist who you can talk to about what you are feeling. Sometimes just verbalizing our problems, makes them smaller.
Avoid Coffee and Alcohol
These two wreak havoc on your nervous system, exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety and keep you from getting a good nights sleep. With a metabolic half life of 6 hours, high levels of caffeine are still within your system well after your last cup at 3pm. This can lead to difficultly sleeping on it’s own, but many adults tend to try and counter act the stimulant with a “night cap”. Unfortunately, alcohol also prevents you from reaching REM as you try to get the rest you need. The next morning the process repeats itself, when you reach for the coffee mug once more. So dial back on the coffee and booze and improve your rest along with decreasing your stress levels.
How to avoid Financial Stress to begin with
While there are a lot of things you can do to cope with financial stress this holiday season – what about avoiding it in the first place?
As referenced earlier, a lot of the stress from the year comes from going into debt for the holidays and feeling the strain of your budget being stretched thin. Here are a few suggestions to consider as you plan how you will spend your holidays that will keep the stress to a minimum and the joy at an all time high!
Don’t Financially Over Commit
The last thing you or your family wants is for you to sacrifice your financial security. So determine how much you can afford to spend well ahead of time and avoid over committing yourself financially. With enough planning ahead of time you can easily start to set money aside and be able to afford your regular holiday traditions.
Set a budget for holiday spending
Having a budget for holiday spending is crucial if you want to avoid the stress of not knowing if you’re spending too much. Consider bringing family in on your plan and setting spending limits on gifts to help reduce excessive spending and the awkward feeling of not having spent as much as the other person.
Here are a few ideas for Thoughtful Gifts on a Budget
Shop with Cash
When at all possible, consider using cash and avoid the use of Credit Cards. This will help you stick to your budget and agreed upon spending limits. Not to mention it makes it incredibly easy to keep your gift a surprise from your spouse!
Read more about the Power of Paying Cash and why you should do it more often!
Consider a “no gift” policy this year
Ask anyone over the age of 12 what their favorite thing is about the holidays and more than likely they will not say gifts. They’ll say family, friends, music and meaningful traditions. So have a family meeting and discuss a “no gift” or a “homemade gift” policy with a spending limit. It may just be the most meaningful celebration yet!
Unsubscribe from Sales E-mails
This time of year it’s a good idea to do an audit of what you’re letting drop in your inbox. With the sales email blitz getting crazier each year, we suggest unsubscribing from stores and shops where it’s too tempting and too easy to impulsively make a purchase. If you’re planning on making a few key purchases that you’re saving up for and waiting for a good promo – great. Otherwise unsubscribe. You can always use Honey if you need a coupon code.
Remove your Credit Card from your browser and your phone
By removing your credit card from your browser and your phone, you create friction between you and making an impulsive purchase. This forces you to take a few extra moments and a few extra steps before finalizing any unplanned spending. You might just find that the small wait and inconvenience is enough to help you realize you shouldn’t spend so much, don’t need the item, nor do you want to spend the money.
Master the art of Mindful Consumption
Truthfully, it is hard to be mindful around the holidays. Between advertisements, parties, expectations, family relations and normal life there is a lot going on. As we’ve mentioned, indulgences are a common way of coping with the stress of it all. So in addition to budgets and using cash – make your secret weapon “Mindful Consumption”. Exactly what it sounds like, this is the ability to thoughtfully consider what you consume. Whether it’s the food on your plate or the items in your virtual shopping cart, careful consideration is key.
In this instance we are talking less about gift giving and more on the side of what you yourself consume. To be a mindful consumer yourself you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions before taking action. But when you master this practice you will: enjoy the things you own more, have fewer feelings of guilt or buyers remorse, increase confidence by honoring your bigger goals, and save money!
Question to Ask Yourself to be a Mindful Consumer:
- Will this bring me joy?
- Do you really need it?
- Will this move you closer to your goals?
- Will this stand the test of time?
- When you practice Mindful Consumption you will
This is something we have practiced for years. It has helped us be happier, feel more fulfilled and grow our net wealth. By asking ourselves the questions above, we’ve been able to experience the benefits of mindful consumption and we hope you will try it!
Have any other ideas for how to deal with (or avoid) the stress of the holidays?
Comment below! We would love to hear how you get through all the hustle and bustle with a cool head and minimal financial stress.