Dealing with the Stressors of the Holidays
Dr. Mary Starr Carter
In 2004 a survey by the American Psychological Association discovered that the
Top 4 Stressors of the Holidays include:
61% Lack of Money
42% Pressures of Gift Giving
34% Lack of Time
23% Credit Card Debt
Now as it is 2011 and we have gone through several economical crisis I can imagine this is a lot worse.
Lack of Money, Pressures of Gift Giving, Credit Card Debt
There has been many a year that my husband and I got each other nothing for Christmas simply because we could not afford it. But truly some of my best memories came from those years.
Know what you can afford and what you can’t
By planning months in advance, setting money aside or planning a budget you will cut down on the stress. Don’t budge on your budget no matter how cute that dress would be for your grand daughter.
I love my nieces and nephews but everything I have ever gotten them has been destroyed, lost, or forgotten in about 3 months. So I stopped getting them things. I know this was probably not the best way to do it, but I don’t get gifts for Christmas, Holidays, or Birthdays. Rather than spend 20-30 dollars 2 times a year I would rather invest that money and give it to them when there is a greater need like a new home, a school investment or an investment in their skill development (this isn’t always college). I know my family and friends were a little ticked off at first, but had I had to do it over again I would say __________ Jay and I have decided that instead of getting you lots of little things that some day when you are bigger and have proven yourself to be responsible with money we will invest to help you in your life.
Just think if you are having to buy gifts on credit at say 18% interest you are not only going to save on the $20 dollar gift but on average another $6 dollars on top of that. If you have 6 nieces and nephews then you are saving close to $50 in interest. (Based on the average debt payoff schedule of 4.5 months)
Young children really don’t need anything new unless it is a necessity. This year my husband and I won’t purchase anything for our 20-month-old son except a memorable ornament we will do each year of his life. We got some hand me down toys and have requested our family (really my mom who has a tendency to go overboard) to get recycled or second hand gifts. Kids grow out of clothes and toys so why not re-use and recycle. Did you know the textile industry is the 3rd leading polluter of our world?
In bigger families talk about a Secret Santa with a spending limit, and gift request. Everyone puts on paper what there name and a gift they want that is approximately that spending limit. Not only will you save money not having to buy for everyone but you also will have a gift you actually want.
Lack of Time
This is my favorite subject to talk to others about because I am a very busy businesswoman and mom but I have learned to prioritize the important things and delegate the things that make me unhappy. This year I asked my husband to give me 3 gifts my carpets cleaned, my cellar organized, and my blender fixed. Now he is very busy too, so I asked him to delegate. For less than $300 dollars we not only are getting all that stuff done but our entire house cleaned too. WAHOOO!!! Someone needed money for Christmas and we needed help.
Ask for help. You may have an elderly aunt who might help make cookies for you, or watch your kids for free. Or you can find a friend or family member who needs some extra Christmas money and pay them to help you. Delegation is sooooooo wonderful. It takes loads off your shoulders if done right.
Also make sure you don’t plan too much during the holidays. If you have a blended family you can always celebrate your Christmas on another date. Dragging your kids all over isn’t fun for them. Believe me. Make it a Christmas week where you go to visit a different family member each day, spend quality time with them when you are with them, and celebrate your Christmas together on any day.
Dealing with Conflict
I don’t think there is any family who doesn’t have conflict at the holidays. But how you deal with it cannot only relieve stress for you but for everyone. Here are some examples.
Jessica has an estranged daughter that only comes around during the holidays. Her daughter thinks that Christmas is an invitation to eat all the food and demand the most gifts for her children. The daughter doesn’t have transportation so Jessica and her husband have to go get the kids in two separate trips because the girls are so big. It finally got to the point that their presence was ruining everyone else’s holiday. So Jessica decided what she could do and what she couldn’t. She purchased gifts and a Christmas dinner for her daughter brings it to them in the early afternoon stays to spend time with the family and then leaves to go enjoy her Holiday IN PEACE.
Sarah has a son in law who makes everyone want to get up and leave the dinner table when he starts talking politics. He gets everyone so heated that people literally will walk out. Although a quiet and reserved woman Sarah sat down with her son in law and told him that he was not allowed to talk politics and some other subjects in her home. She loved him but this was not time for that. He honored her request mostly and the holidays have been special ever since.
Lastly there will always be son in laws who don’t listen, uncles who drink too much and people who put their foot in their mouth. You may not be able to control them but you can control how you respond.
And my last hint for you on Stressful family events are to make sure you are oiled up with your Peace and Calming and Stress Away. Inhale them frequently during those times and see how your body just relaxes even amongst the angst and chaos around you.
Take time for yourself
The Christmas holiday should always include a time for you. Take a half-day to pamper you.
Ask a friend, spouse, parent or in law who normally get’s you a gift and watches your children to give you that gift this year. Say
“ __________ What I really would like for Christmas this year is a day to myself. I know this may be a bit forward but instead of getting me a gift this year would you mind taking the kids for the day so I can relax by myself.”
Some of you may have to force yourself to do this, but it is important to take time for you!
God Bless your Holiday Season. Make a happy, healthy and the least stressful year yet! Please leave your comment below. We love to hear from you.
Dr. Mary Starr Carter is known as the Total Wellness Doc. She has been training individuals about Natural Health Solutions for over 13 years. She is trained as a Chiropractor and has studied under the world’s foremost leaders in natural medicine. She is a mother and a wife and has created a balanced and total wellness life for herself and thousands of her clients using her simple wholistic approach to health and wellness. Her coaching, classes and ebooks help clients with Fibromyalgia, Hormone and Adrenal issues, Asthma, Diabetes, Weight problems, Thyroid and Chronic pain find resources and solutions to better health.
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