6 Cheap Ways To Combat Holiday Stress

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Whether you actively participate in the holiday madness or not, some amount of holiday stress will undoubtedly find its way into your peace of mind. Bustling crowds, bad traffic, higher expenditures, presents to buy and wrap and the pressure to gather with family can quickly weigh you down. However, it doesn’t have to. Here, experts offer some tips for how to combat holiday stress without spending a lot of money:

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Create a Holiday Budget

Even if you don’t typically work from a budget, the holidays might be the perfect time to adopt one, said Mario Cacciottolo, PR and branding manager for SBO.

“I really like to put together a daily budget that runs through December because it gives me a realistic insight into how much I can spend each day before blowing the budget, and gives me the chance to slow down and think: ‘Less money spent here can be put towards tomorrow’s event, which I’m really excited about.'”

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He said a budget helps you to “align you with what you really want to do, leaving you to realize the other things were probably more about FOMO (fear of missing out) and spending a little bit less at these events is no big deal. The daily budget just helps take away the financial stress each day of trying to work out how much we can spend.”

Embrace Smaller Gatherings

If you’re overwhelmed about gathering en masse for any number of reasons, ranging from health and safety to family dysfunction, consider going smaller, said Chris Muller, director of audience growth at DoughRoller. “More intimate gatherings mean less food, less expense and lower overall stress. The pandemic provides a handy reason to keep things small. While being invited to a bunch of parties and gatherings is wonderful, each invitation becomes a responsibility to purchase more gifts, make more sweets and chase down appropriate attire. Don’t be afraid to turn down invites politely and explain why you’re taking a less-stressful approach.”

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Don’t Overcommit

Additionally, just because people want you to participate in events and celebrations doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do so, said Robert Johansson, CEO and tech expert at imgkits. “Don’t over-schedule commitments, minimize (holiday) stress. If your schedule is so jam-packed with events and duties that you don’t have any time for yourself, it’s important to learn to say no. People who actually care about you will understand if you refuse an invitation, and it’s perfectly acceptable to cut corners. This can help you cope with the stress of the season.”

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Apply Mindfulness

Money itself causes stress without the added pressure of the holidays, said Erin Papworth, MPH, a money coach and founder of Nav.it, a fintech start-up.

“Seventy percent of Americans feel anxiety around money, but there are small, daily habits you can create to help you not only cope better but also improve how you manage money, ultimately reducing that stress. For instance, try taking a moment every day to reflect on your purchases. This daily moment of money mindfulness can have a serious impact,” she said.

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She pointed out that practicing mindfulness promotes “a better work ethic, productivity, listening skills, sleep — even improved financial habits.”

“When we practice daily, digestible financial habits, we’re 10 times more likely to achieve our financial goals.”

Implement Conscious Self-Care

Reducing stress is up to each of us. We can’t wait for others to do it for us, and we can’t put it off for another time.

Anthony Martin, CEO of Choice Mutual and a member of the Forbes Finance Council, said, “Not everyone is going to be surrounded by family and friends; and, for those people, keeping the holiday blues away is crucial. This could be cooking a nice meal, putting on a good movie or having a meal with loved ones over Skype. Not everyone can fly home for the holidays. 

For those who work over the holidays and can’t take time off, Martin said, “For them it is important to take a step back, delegate and to not stress too much by placing too much importance on sales this time of year. Businesses are around all year, so you don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket.”

Get Back to the Basics

There are, of course, a dozen other simple, even free, ways to take care of yourself this time of year, according to Brad Cummins, financial expert and owner of Insurance Geek. These can include: Take a hot shower or bath; take a refreshing walk; get a pedicure; buy yourself flowers; decompress with an uplifting TV show or a great book.

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