Christmas...Don't Let Stress Ruin the Holidays!
Christmas can be a stressful time of year. We LOVE this time of year, and thought that it would be fun to share some of the things we do to reduce the stress that comes with all of the holiday "expectations."
Many of us face added pressure and stress from increased expectations of family togetherness, the expense associated with gifts, and the need to fit in on Social Media. Here are a few ways to reduce your Christmastime stress.
Create a Realistic Budget
Our desire to buy the perfect gifts sometimes leads to purchases beyond our budget. The reality of massive credit card bills after Christmas is all too real for many Americans. Christmas doesn't have to be a financial stress if you plan ahead of time.
Work out a rough budget of Christmas expenses. This should include more than just the cost of presents. It should include travel expenses, added food costs, and more. Calculate how much disposable income you have between now and Christmas. Obviously, you will probably not have enough to cover all of the Christmas expenses this late in the year so you will have to adjust your budget or your expectations. Let this be a learning experience and build your nest egg throughout the next year so that 2019 has a different feel.
Presents can be very expensive, especially if you have a large family. Consider making a suggestion to your family and friends to change how you give gifts. Perhaps you could buy presents only for the children, draw for names so that you only have one person or one couple to buy for, set a price limit per person, offer to use your expertise to help someone else with a task that you know how to do, or consider passing on a book that you've read(everyone will benefit from the knowledge and sharing and can lead to some fun conversations around the table).
Presents have become an important part of the Christmas experience, but you have to remind your family, and yourself, that there is more to the holiday season than just the gifts.
Trying to shop for Christmas presents can be just as stressful as trying to save enough money in your budget. Here's a few things you can do to reduce the stress that comes with the shopping experience.
1. Make a list of the presents you intend to buy BEFORE you go shopping. Do NOT impulse buy. Retail stores are set up intentionally to get you to purchase more than you intended to, so stick to your list!
2. Cross people off the list to prevent duplicate purchases.
3. Buy a few small gifts just in case you forget someone or for friends/relatives that show up that you were not expecting.
4. Shop early-NOW is the perfect time. The first week of December allows you the flexibility to shop multiple stores for the best deal and allows you to find the things on your list.
5. Buy gifts on Amazon or through other online options to reduce the stress of crowds, stores out of stock, bad weather, and traffic.
Trying to make a meal for family and friends should be enjoyable, but it can also be very stressful.
Here's some of the tips to reduce this cooking stress that we've learned over the years.
1. Don't feel like you have to do it all by yourself. If you are cooking at home, then make sure you delegate some tasks to others.
2. Consider having all family members bring a dish. This will reduce the work load and helps ensure everyone has something that they would enjoy eating.
3. Make a list of the ingredients that you will need and shop early for them because grocery stores tend to get busier and busier as the Christmas holiday approaches.
4. Create a list of when things need to be prepared. For example, write down what time the ham needs to be put in the oven, when you should put things on to boil, and when desert options need to start.
5. Consider doing food shopping online. In most cities, there are delivery services that will bring your order straight to your door.
6. If you plan to eat out, then make sure that you make a reservation at the restaurant of choice to prevent disappointment.
The biggest source of stress comes from how people handle relationships. The main thing to remember is that stress, anxiety, and depression are common feelings-especially during the holiday season.
Consider keeping your expectations realistic. If your family members argue during the year, then they will probably due so during the stressful time around the holidays as well. Try to avoid known triggers! If you know politics can be a hot button issue, then make an agreement to check those opinions at the door.
Try to plan an activity for after the meal. Families that play some games together typically have less arguments.
Stress can lead to other health concerns. Make sure that you take care of yourself. Try to partake in moderation-we often eat and drink too much.
Make sure that you get enough sleep. Plan to go to bed early whenever possible and set realistic expectations for the morning routine. Don't make breakfast too big of a deal, especially on the days with a large lunch or dinner planned.
Don't forget to exercise. This is a great way to blow off some steam. Keeping up your regular exercise routine can give you the stamina to make it through the demands of family time!
We hope that some of these suggestions help reduce the stress that inevitably comes with this time of year. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!