We know that mention of the word “holidays” doesn’t always conjure up images of hearth and home and relaxing nights spent sipping cups of frothy cocoa with loved ones… not even close sometimes, right? This time of year can evoke stress in even the calmest of people. If you’re worried about how you’re going to afford gifts for the entire family, when you’re going to find time to attend to everything or how you’re going to keep off those 20 pounds you spent the whole year dieting away, we feel your pain. Here are some common holiday-induced stressors and how to deal with them:
A Jam-Packed Holiday Schedule
If you were a child of the ’80s, you probably remember the “Just Say No” campaign. Well, it works for getting out of obligations of all kinds, from attending your book club’s annual holiday party to going to your cousin’s children’s holiday concert. Saying “no” the first time will be tough, but after that, it’s liberating. Trust us. Try it.
Whiny, Bored Kids Around the House
Create a routine and put the kids to work. Kids thrive when they have a routine and know what’s going to happen next. On weekends, once chores and homework is done, have them do things like help bake cookies, wrap gifts for their teachers, and address and stamp cards.
You’re Strapped Financially
This tip is really geared to make next year easier on your wallet, but you can start following it right after this Christmas is over. Create a line item in your monthly budget specifically for the holidays. If you usually spend $1,000 on the holidays, then divide that by 12 months—you’ll need to stash $84 a month. Check out Dave Ramsey’s holiday budgeting tool for additional help.
If you’re in need of cash now to pay off January’s credit card bills, think about ways you can raise some money. Maybe it’s time to sell that unused exercise equipment—you can capitalize on all those “get fit” New Year’s resolutions. If you receive regular payments from annuities or a structured settlement, you may be able to sell future payments in exchange for a lump sum amount. See if you can pick up extra work around your neighborhood.
Or, how about you just opt out of giving gifts to the extended family? Instead, offer to draw names so everyone gets and gives one gift. The holidays aren’t about going broke. Consider starting a new stress-free tradition with your immediate family. Take a walk in the snow, go ice skating, build a snowman or have a hot cocoa bar while you watch a holiday classic.
Fattening Food Is Everywhere
Don’t let go of your good habits just because everyone’s offering up treats. Whenever you go to an event, take a healthy treat like a fruit platter or spiced almonds, so that you’re not singled out for not partaking of the calorie-laden treats. If you’re counting calories, work weekly splurges into your numbers so that you don’t end up five pounds heavier come January 1. Abandoning your good habits and overindulging will only lead to more stress.