Stressing out over the Holidays?
Well you’re not alone! There really is a frenzied feeling out there and it’s real easy to get caught up in it. People are rushing around, bumping into each other, glaring, frowning, clenching jaws, panicking. The atmosphere in shops/stores is almost predatorial! If you’re not careful you’ll lose that warm festive (or Christmassy) feeling they all sing about and quickly develop a hatred for your fellow man.. (you know, that person who’s not making eye contact and just parked their giant car in the space you spotted before they did. Waaaay before!!).
The thing is, it’s not personal. People are barely present at this time of year. It’s not about you. We can choose to observe this chaos without being affected. We can, if we are present and mindful.
We’ve observed that there are worries at this time of year that we all share. Clients of ours find these holidays very challenging, because more than any other time of year, you’re supposed to be happy regardless of how your life actually is. How unrealistic is that?!
Because the pressures on us are amplified at this time of year (financially and emotionally), it occurred to us to write a few short pieces to help you navigate through so that you reach the New Year with your wallet – and yourself – intact (at least that is the hope!).
We’ve decided to write three posts for the Holiday season. This one will look at some of the common financial worries. The next one at the social hell stuff, and in a few days we’ll post some nice self care tips – good for all year ’round, but maybe needed now, more than at any other time!
Our first focus: Financial stresses
The worry: How can I afford to buy all of the ‘perfect gifts’ that I want to buy for everyone?
1. Be realistic. You have a limited amount of money. That won’t change in the next two weeks. Sit down and write a list of who you want to buy for and how much you are willing to spend. (If you have already over-purchased, you can even RETURN some items – no harm done).
2. Prioritize. Remember that your friendship/relationship doesn’t depend on how much you spend on your gift. If it does, then perhaps your concern belongs with the relationship, not the gift. It is unlikely that your friends who care about you want you to be under financial pressure in order to give them a gift that they might not even want or have use for.
3. Set a Budget and stick to it. Sit down with your friends and family and make an agreement either to not buy each other gifts, or to have a strict limit on how much you spend on a token gift and stick to it. You’ll most likely hear a series of relieved breathes. You’ll also possibly get a lot of creative and interesting little gifts! (refer to point #1 if you’ve blown your budget already).
4. Make it fun! If you have a large family or circle of friends/ colleagues then arrange a Secret Santa. This is good fun as well as a great money saving idea.
The worry: My kids want the latest PS game/ console/ iPhone / iPad and I can’t afford it!
Solution (s): Well, your kids may want it, but the reality may be that they cannot have it. Some parents find this more difficult than others, we know that. Saying ‘no’ can be hard, even embarrassing, especially if it’s for purely financial reasons. But here’s the thing – it’s OK to say no to children. It’s a good thing in fact. We are teaching them that material things don’t necessarily come easily, and they are not necessities.
Here are some compromise ideas:
1: Get 2nd hand stuff, look through local swap shops and local ads, ebay etc. You may well find exactly what you’re looking for, if not a great substitute. Check with your friends and colleagues – they might have something they’re no longer using, or if you’re reeeeally lucky, something they’ve never used. (It does happen!!! FACT!;))
2: If your extended family are planning gifts for your kids, ask them instead for small amounts of cash. This could build up to go towards the price of what your child wants, and they can buy it themselves in the January sales.
3: If you can afford it, buy just one device for your kids to share (we know this might cause fights.. but learning to cooperate is part of learning to be a human!) They don’t need one each, especially if they are close in age.
(In fact they don’t need any of them. Remember that).
4. Remember what it’s all about. In ten years’ time it is likely that your children won’t remember what you gave them each year and how much it cost. Memories aren’t dependent on brand-names. They are far more likely to remember how they felt, the time you spent with them, the atmosphere in your home, the attention they received, your mood. The label and price tag on their toy /gadget will mean very little to them in comparison.
Your kids will still love you if you don’t provide exactly what they ask for, and you will still be a good parent.
The worry: What will I get my partner?
A good solution here is simply to ask. It might feel less magical, or unromantic, but if you are actually feeling stressed about it then a solution is to ask.
Will they like it? See above (the section on buying the ‘perfect gifts’ ) and also, if it’s not their ideal gift and the one thing they always wanted this is not a disaster. Your relationship will remain intact, and if it doesn’t as a result of a gift, then again, the issue for review here is the relationship, not the gift.
The worry: When will I get my new clothes? hair done? nails done?
Solution: These things might be rituals for you that you think of as essentials, but ask yourself – are they really necessary? They are treats, and if you really have the money and the time, go for it. If they are actually adding to your sense of stress then these treats have become ordeals. You have a choice, do you want to increase your stress levels? Or would your time and money be better spent elsewhere?
Self-care is really important all year, but perhaps particularly so at this time of year when there is so much stress and emotion in our lives.
In our next holiday post we’ll talk about the social stresses of this time of year and how to manage them. In our third post of this series we’ll give you some nice ‘festive-season’ self-care tips.
Meanwhile, perhaps you’d like to make yourself a nice hot drink now before you get on with the rest of your day / evening?
We hope that’s been helpful so far!
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Thanks for reading!:)