The holidays can be challenging and stress-filled for a number of reasons. Overwhelm comes in many forms, be it travel, shopping, or dealing with relatives you don’t normally interact with. Below are some tips to help you beat stress during the holiday season.
Make Sure you Plan Ahead
Over 40 million Americans traveled through security screenings at Christmas last year. That’s a lot of interacting with security agents, a lot of standing in lines, waiting your turn, and submitting to checks you may prefer to avoid. While it may be stressful in the moment, there are things that you can do to make it feel a little easier. First, be prepared that there may be delays. This may mean arriving early to your place of departure, ensuring you have tickets and other documents ready and accessible, and being prepared to wait.
Expect the Worst (Hope for the Best)
Keep your expectations in check, and build in some time for delays, both because you’re running late and because an airline, train, or bus has fallen behind schedule. Try and schedule something to keep your mind occupied during the down time. It can be listening to an audiobook or music, reading on your phone or tablet, or talking and listening to your travel companions. Make sure you plan, stick to your packing list so your luggage will not be overweight or size, and see if you can’t budget a little spending money in case you get stuck somewhere.
Don’t Engage in Controversial Topics
More than 1/3 of adults avoid political discussions during the holiday season, and this can make a lot of sense. Tension often runs high on all sides of the political spectrum and arguing over a turkey dinner can not only cause indigestion, but real family fights. Plan in advance to avoid discussion topics that can rile tempers, like the proposed Bernie Sanders wealth tax, and decide if you have issues that you’re willing to let go for the sake of peace. If you don’t, plan on focusing on the fun aspects of the holiday and excusing yourself if conversations get volatile.
Create a Holiday Budget
At least 28% of Americans go into debt spending for the winter holidays, with as many as 60% saying they’ve considered it. This means they’re paying off December bills for months, many past March, and that debt lingers well into the new year. The best bet shoppers can make is to plan in advance, make shopping lists, and stick to their preplanned budget. Last minute shopping can make it hard to gauge if you’re getting a good deal on an item, and with limited time, it can be hard to comparison shop. It can really add up when you start spending money, especially last minute.
You know you want to get something special for your special someone. You want to get some toys for the kids in your life. You usually see a distant relative or two that you thought you might but weren’t sure about. Budget in advance to make your money goes further. Even picking up an extra gift for that great-aunt you might see will save you money in the long run if you’re not rushing out last minute to pick something up.
You cannot avoid stress during the holidays all together, but you can reduce stress significantly.
- Always plan ahead while you’re traveling. Create a contingency plan, especially during holiday travel where large crowds at airports are to be expected.
- “Woosah” during the holidays and don’t engage in any conversations that may spike your blood pressure – you already have enough stress to deal with!
- Beating stress during the holidays also means creating a budget. Just like retirement planning, budgeting is necessary in life, and during the this season, can help prevent holiday debt that follows you into the new year.