5 biggest holiday stressors and how to eliminate them
Welcome to *insert music here* “the most wonderful time of the year* and the “happiest season of all”. Let’s face it, though, no matter how jolly and happy this season is, it comes with its fare share of stress. Holiday shopping (or perhaps dealing with other holiday shoppers), fattening foods, horrible traffic, way too much family time (“you voted for who?!!?””you’re STILL not dating anyone??”)…the list could go on. By the time the second week of January rolls around we are more tired, broke, and stressed than we ever were before. Here are 5 easy tips you can do to combat the January blues. I’ve broken them down into 5 categories that usually leave us the most stressed.
#5 Biggest Holiday Stressor: Parties
It’s officially party season and you have a dozen invites on the table. If you’re an extrovert- the thought of a million parties sounds exhilarating. If you’re an introvert- multiple parties seem like a good way to kill yourself. No matter who you are though, a bunch of holiday parties can drain your bank account (if you’re bringing a bottle or two of wine to each), sabotage your health (helllooo sugar overload), and leave you exhausted. The key is to set boundaries and learn to say no. Go with a friend and help them keep you responsible (I will leave by 9pm, I will not eat all the cookies…). Or get a jump start on your New Years resolution to say no more often and send your regrets. This will save your time, money, and energy for the parties you care most about.
#4 Biggest Holiday Stressor: Traffic
If you are someone who gets easily angered by traffic, get prepared…this time of year is no driving cakewalk. Opt to visit stores during their off-peak hours (if you search any local store in Google, a nifty chart comes up showing you when that particular store is least and most busy) or purchase online. If you’re hitting the road to visit friends or family, try to get off work early or leave after everyone else. You won’t avoid traffic completely, but it may help you keep some of your sanity. With that said, be careful driving late at night as there is in an increase in drunk driving around this time of year.
#3 Biggest Holiday Stressor: Health
It’s too late to take back what you ate for Thanksgiving, but it isn’t too late to make sure you don’t add a few more pounds before New Years. If you’re going to a party, bring a healthy dish (note: healthy doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with carrot sticks, this black bean salsa is healthy and delicious) and decide what you’re going to consume beforehand. Ask a friend or spouse to keep you in check. The items with the biggest calorie count aren’t necessarily cookies or cake (although, those don’t help) but alcohol. A single glass of wine can have up to 100 calories or more in it. If you’re friends are party animals and love to drink, volunteer to be the DD. It’s a great out for you (let them kill themselves at the gym come January…you’ll still be looking great) and ensures everyone is safe during the holidays.
#2 Biggest Holiday Stressor: Family
Family is great. But often times, too much family can be…well, too much. You don’t have to spend every waking moment with your relatives to prove you love them. Allowing downtime and limiting the length of your stay are two ways to show that you respect the other person’s personal space and generosity to host you. If you need some alone time (and no one is getting the hint) this may be a great time to do something active. Go for a walk or take a jog. It will help re-energize you and work off any wine you might need later that day.
#1 Biggest Holiday Stressor: Money
How many times do you get your January credit card statement and solemnly vow never to spend that much again…only to have severe amnesia around Thanksgiving and repeat the whole process? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Luckily, a little planning and preparation (and some self control) can help get your finances back in order and keep them that way. For starters, assess everything you purchase. Yes, everything. And ask yourself, “do I (or whoever it’s for) really need this?” If the answer is yes, follow up with this question, “do I need it right now?” Instead of buying a new outfit for every party, borrow something from a friend, rent a dress, or get creative by mixing and matching pieces in your own closet. Instead of bringing a pricy dessert that you picked up from the bakery, make it yourself and save some money. Instead of buying an endless amount of gifts, decide on a gift budget beforehand and then stick to it. Every year my husband and I decide on how much money we will spend on each other. I also decide what my max amount is to spend on family members. That way, there’s never a surprise bill in January.
If you’re already too far gone this year, try something different next year. Set your budgets and then divide that total amount by 12. That’s how much money you need to put into savings each month to afford your holiday spending…without the hangover.
Not everyone gets stressed out about the same things during the holiday season. Whether it’s weight gain, money woes, or traffic issues, know what pushes your buttons and make an active plan (NOW!) to better avoid the stress later. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.