Some of my subscribers recently reached out to me and suggested I write about this topic and I thought it was a great idea. The holidays are supposed to be fun, festive and full of family but unfortunately, that can come with a lot of stress! There are so many factors that can add to the stress. I am going to talk about some of those stressors and ways to overcome them.
Major Holiday Stressors
- Gift Giving
- Holiday Shopping
Gift giving has always brought a little stress to my life. I LOVE giving gifts. It’s so much fun to watch someone open a gift from me and I know they love it! The hard part is, some people are hard to shop for. I have no idea what to get them. To me, gift giving is about putting effort and thought into the gift and showing that person you know them and care for them. In the past, my family has sent out links to exactly what each person wants. That isn’t as fun for me because I like the element of surprise. Check out my recent post on why I am not getting my family any material gifts for Christmas this year. If you have a special person in your life but it’s so hard to pick something out for them then try this:
- Pay close attention throughout the year as you spend time with this person. Listen to see if they mention any new hobbies or interests and jot them down so you have some good ideas for the holidays. Don’t wait until the last minute and panic otherwise you will probably end up getting them a giftcard. (which is fine, but not as fun)
- Ask yourself if you should actually be getting them a gift. Not to sound harsh, but maybe this is the type of person that says, “Don’t get me anything!” and they actually mean it. I know some people like that.
Another thing that I have heard people gripe about is, “Ugh, I have to get them something because they got me something.” Is that really true? Shouldn’t we always be giving with a cheerful heart? You work hard to earn money and you are going to go spend it on some random gift for a person you don’t want to give it to anyway? Seems odd to me! I guess I have never really been put in a situation where I receive gifts from people and feel obligated to return the favor but don’t want to. Please comment if you have a good story or suggestion about this!
Gift giving can be stressful if you have financial burdens. This year was very different for us because we had our first child. Along with a precious child comes endless expenses. A good percentage of our income now goes to daycare and we are still paying off hospital bills from Axel’s birth. It finally feels like we are getting caught up again and now the holidays are here! I was really stressed about it so I sat down with my husband and we started looking at our budget and figured out what was acceptable to spend this season. We have separate checking accounts but we do talk about these things together, a lot!
If you are starting to feel stressed about your holiday spending then stop and take a step back. Get a pen and paper or use Excel and write down your income and expenses for the next month. You may already have a budget but make a holiday specific budget. The end of the year is always a little different because you are likely spending more but you also may be receiving a holiday bonus. Come up with a spending amount you feel comfortable with, make your list of people to shop for and stay within the budget. Friends and family won’t get mad at you for not spending enough on them – at least they shouldn’t! If you have a significant other, discuss with them and come to an agreement.
Don’t let holiday shopping crowds stress you out. The lines, parking lots, traffic and crowds are all nonsense. I either do a lot of my holiday shopping throughout the year or do a lot of online shopping. Don’t wait until the last minute and worry if your package will ship on time. Most shipping mistakes happen in December because of the high volume. It’s only December 1st and we already had two delayed packages this week (due to Cyber Monday madness).
Family is another holiday stressor. Most everyone has their annoying family drama or that one person they don’t quite get along with. I recently asked one of my good friends how she handles family drama. She is my mentor at work and pretty much my all-around life mentor as well. She said, “I simply focus on the positive and enjoyable moments. I do my best to ignore the negative and not focus on that.” Now that is good advice!
It’s not always that simple. If you have a toxic family member that makes you feel insane then it is best to try to avoid being in that situation altogether. I have also heard from a couple friends that they gave their family a break for a few months because it was getting unbearable. Sometimes that separation is good and healthy. It can put things into perspective and actually bring you closer together.
I have a lot of feelings (my family is probably laughing as they read those words) and I am an over-communicator. If there is tension or conflict I want to address it and get it out of the way so everyone can move forward. That’s not always easy to do when people aren’t receptive. My advice to you is don’t let it build up and definitely don’t let it make you blow up over the holidays. You will end up looking like the crazy person. Always ask yourself if you could be doing something more to help the situation. Don’t always blame others!
My husband and I love our families. Sure, there can be a little drama at times but nothing we can’t overcome. We live a few hours from them which works well for us. Not that it wouldn’t be nice to be close but we are both independent creatures and we like our space. We like that we made this new city we live in, OUR home. My husband’s favorite thing to do is be at home relaxing with no plans. I love to make plans, see family and host. Not an issue. We compromise. During the holidays, we take some time at home to just relax with baby boy and the other time is spent with family. It’s a good balance and it works for us.
Holiday family time changes into something much different when children become adults and start having children of their own. My mom recently shared with me that she is so happy when all of her kids and grandkids are able to be together. This is hard to do when you are splitting the time between your family and your spouse’s family. It becomes difficult to coordinate a time that works for everyone. I sometimes worry if I am splitting my time fairly. This is a good lesson for me as a new mother. I will cherish all of my holidays with baby Axel because one day it won’t be the same but that’s okay. The time spent together and even the traditions change over the years, but one thing that remains constant is family. It’s okay to start new traditions. Don’t dwell on the fact that Christmas “just isn’t the same”. Enjoy the new moments you have and reminisce on the good memories you once had.
There are lots of inconvenient things that can happen with hosting. I LOVE hosting! My husband doesn’t feel the same. But like I said, we compromise. Please be kind to your host and make sure to keep these tips in mind:
- Don’t show up unannounced – hosts do A LOT of planning to make it a pleasant time for their guests. Don’t stress them out by showing up last minute and making them feel like they may not have enough food and drinks
- Offer to bring something or help in some way
- Be respectful of their home – obviously
- Think before you speak – before you announce that the figgy pudding is too bland, don’t. That’s rude and your host put a lot of work into preparing the get together
- Don’t overstay your welcome like Uncle Eddie
As you go into this holiday season, remember what this time is all about and what it means to you. A little stress and chaos is bound to happen. Make sure you take some time to take care of yourself. Here are some easy and natural ways that help me to relax:
- Take a bath with salts and lavender essential oil
- Do some yoga or your favorite workout
- Try some breathing exercises – deep/slow inhale and exhale
- Listen to your favorite music (I love a good Christmas music station)
- Do things that make YOU happy! This is not selfish. Many people have a busy holiday and find themselves trying to run around pleasing everyone. Sometimes it’s okay to do what you want to do. Check out my recent post on my MOM’S DAY OFF.
- Make healthy eating decisions – it’s easy to overeat around the holidays which makes you feel lethargic. It’s okay to have some delicious cookies but limit yourself
- Get good sleep so that you have energy and patience for the holiday chaos that awaits
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