Most of us have fond memories of the holiday season when we were children, and the holidays can still be fun and rewarding. But, as adults, many people find that stress has become a traditional part of the holiday season.
Today, “the holidays” start earlier each year, with Christmas decorations installed in stores as soon as the Halloween decor comes down. There’s mall shopping, turkey stuffing, travelling, high expectations, and it always seems like there’s just not enough time to get it all done. Some stores offer Black Friday sales that start at 6:00 a.m., and some even open their doors on Thanksgiving.
So, many of us look at the holidays with an odd mixture of warmth and dread. We look forward to the fun, but dread all that stress.
Here are some simple tips to keep stress levels under control and help you enjoy this holiday season.
1. Just say “No.” Neighbors, co-workers, family, friends – the holidays are a time for parties, so many of us get a lot of invitations from a lot of different people.
Learn to say “no” to events and parties that you don’t really want to attend. RSVP with thanks, but explain that your holiday schedule is full this year, and leave it at that.
Select events and galas to attend that you actually want to attend. You may choose to say “no” if it feels more like an obligation than a fun time.
2. Keep gift giving under control. Don’t get caught up in the holiday “spirit” of giving based on TV advertisements or mall sales. Instead, try a new approach to giving this holiday season:
- Set a dollar limit per person – a limit all gift-givers stick to.
- Limit one or two gifts per person. You don’t have to shower Uncle Bob with 20 packages this year. One thoughtful gift will probably be more appreciated.
- Pool your gift-giving money and buy one big item for the house that everyone can enjoy. One gift. One purchase. One big bow. Simple.
- Instead of gift giving, take a family vacation. Visit a tropical island, take a cruise, or hit some of the best skiing in the world right here inNevada.
- Make contributions to the gift recipient’s charity of choice. Do you really need another tie or kitchen gadget? Consider donating your holiday spending money to organizations that really need it.
3. Say “no” to move-in house guests. When family members move in for the holidays, chances are stress levels increase for everyone. Routines are disrupted. There’s a lot more activity going on all day, and all night. There’s pressure to entertain or cook special meals.
Lower your stress by lowering the number of people sleeping in the spare room, on the couch, and downstairs in the playroom. For many of us, that’s just too many people, for too long, in too small a space – and that adds up to stress. If relatives may expect you to open your house again this year, let them know that you’ve decided to have a quiet holiday. Be sure to contact them well in advance so they can make other arrangements.
4. Manage your time. Shopping online can be a real timesaver. Buy it, pay for it, and someone brings it to you. No more mall mobs.
When you do hit the mall, go on a weekday, early in the day, to avoid that “cattle-car” feeling. If you plan it right, you may have time to enjoy the decorations, and maybe even get a little holiday spirit.
Prepare a list before you leave the house and stick to it. Plan it like a mission. Know where you’re going, how to avoid the food court, and how to get in and out in under three hours.
5. Use a credit card that delivers a holiday gift. Use credit cards wisely this holiday season and get something in return, with cash back, rewards points, or frequent flyer miles.
Some banks offer special holiday credit card promotions. Nevada State Bank, for example, offers credit cards that deliver four times the amount of bonus awards through December 31 at select retailers, with no annual fee.
6. Lower expectations. Everybody wants to buy the perfect gift, set the perfect holiday table, be the perfect holiday host or guest. We often set some high standards for ourselves and others.
Lower your expectations. The holidays are a wonderful time of the year. Enjoy the positive spirit and the twinkly lights, but be realistic in your expectations.
7. Focus on what’s really important. The holidays are much more than a reason to hold “door-buster” sales. Keep your focus on what’s really important to you – family, good health, another wonderful year. It’s up to you.
Don’t over-tax yourself or your family this year. Control and manage your social schedule, simplify the gift-giving process, don’t cook a turkey and a ham – in other words, keep things smaller.
You’ll enjoy your holidays much more when you focus on the holiday spirit of sharing and caring, rather than installing a big screen TV among the shredded wrapping.
Happy Holidays from Nevada State Bank.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.
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