Help for Managing Holiday Stress

Help for Managing Holiday Stress

The holiday season brings a menu of options to consider in a very short time–and also the possibility of real holiday stress. Fun events with family, friends, colleagues; gift giving; charitable donations; volunteering; and holiday foods to cook. The sheer number of things to get done can seem overwhelming, even if you look forward to all of them.image of the words holiday stress on a background of a wooden tale and pine boughs, pinecones, cinnamon and a plain wrapped gift around

Planning for the holidays is a good way to keep your budget and your energy aligned with your resources, but plans have a tendency to get off track. Figuring out what’s most important for you to give your time and energy and setting a serious budget, and sticking to it–are a couple of ways to get you through the season.

And tackling the energy drain of the holidays isn’t simple. According to the American Psychological Association, even happy holidays can cause stress.  A recently released APA Harris Poll says, “While stress appears to be common at this time of year, 43% said that the stress of the holidays interferes with their ability to enjoy them and 36% said the holidays feel like a competition.” Of that stress, 58 percent of respondents cited finances as being a big driver of their anxiety.

Part of that psychological holiday stress impacts the way many folks spend their money. It’s easy to overspend when you think you need to buy another gift or when you receive one unexpectedly from a neighbor or colleague, for example, and feel the need to reciprocate. And emotional stress has many origins. For cultures where holidays other than Christmas are celebrated, stress can come from having your own traditions not reflected as prominently, if at all, in the media or in society.

But even the best holiday strategy can go awry. Deep into the holiday season, you might find you’re pushing the outer limit of your budget (or you’ve reached it). Or your family gets the stomach bug the night before your holiday party is scheduled. Or maybe you just feel sad after a difficult year.

There are many proven methods to relieve holiday stress, but the key to making it all work is prioritizing the time to do what helps. If you can set aside time, even 15 minutes here and there, to reset your mind and take deep breaths to calm your heart rate can help. Be sure to designate longer blocks of time for activities that are meaningful to you. The APA’s Harris Poll suggests taking the time to strengthen relationships and engage in traditions to soothe feelings of stress and anxiety. But a quick hour-long solo escape is what other people need.

And while your budget concerns can’t be negated, there’s still time to rein in extra spending. Any holiday financial missteps also offer an opportunity to look ahead and try to improve. Pablo Oliva, a wealth advisor with Northsight Wealth Management, LLC, says good budgeting is like any habit that takes time to build and refine. Even folks who plan can encounter problems. “Normally, an unexpected bill that comes due or a car repair can throw things off,” he says.

Look ahead to next year and start using some budgeting tools to help you see where you overspent and where you can cut back next year. And don’t be tempted to open up interest-free credit cards, he says. Some may not charge interest for a certain amount of time, but if you haven’t paid it all off by the time the bill comes due, you could be charged interest retroactively.

If the holidays are giving you some feelings of stress overload, take the time to find something that will help you feel better. Whether that’s connecting with people, doing some active self care like mindful meditation, or planning to revisit some favorite traditions, finding ways to take a breath during such busy times will help. And use any pain points in planning or spending as an opportunity to switch things up next year.

 

 

A legal disclosure from Northsight for this interview: Investment advisory services are offered through Northsight Wealth Management, LLC (NSMW), a Registered Investment Advisor. Northsight Wealth Management, LLC will only provide investment advisory services in jurisdictions where it is registered as an investment adviser or exempt from registration. Insurance products and services are offered and sold through individually licensed and appointed insurance agents. NSWM does not provide legal or tax advice.

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