It is not a mystery that the holidays cause stress, but knowing exactly why or what is causing it is something else entirely. While this is different for each person, there are some common reasons people tend to get more stressed during the holidays.
What Causes Stress During the Holidays
First, let’s look at a few things that can cause stress during the holidays. Many people get stressed from planning a party, cooking meals, or even attending a party if you get confused about what to wear or have social anxiety. Other people get more stressed about gaining weight due to the sweets, the financial aspects of the holidays, and shopping for gifts. There are also other types of holiday stress, including dealing with crowds while shopping, traveling to see family, seeing certain people that cause stress, or even not knowing how to properly tip during this time of year.
The Financial Aspects
Naturally, one of the biggest stresses with the holidays is what it is going to do to your bank account. There are a lot of different expenses to be aware of during the holidays, from buying gifts, to planning a party, preparing a meal, paying for travel, or buying a new outfit and getting your hair done for a big holiday party. It can help if you start planning well before the holidays begin by putting aside a little bit of money from every paycheck so that by the time holiday shopping begins, you already have what you need in your savings account and don’t have to stress quite as much about it.
You can also look for ways to cut expenses. Homemade gifts are one way. I remember long ago a friend had no money for gifts. She was a single mother, and was receiving government aid for her child, so no money to spend on Christmas. However, she had flour, sugar, and a few other staples in the kitchen. She bought some butterscotch chips with her food stamps, and made 3 plates of cookies. One for her parents, one for her brother’s family, and one for her sister’s family. Her sister still says it was one of the best and most meaningful gifts she’s ever received.
Having Too Much to Do
Another thing that the holidays do is cause stress from simply not having the time to do everything. You might end up with invitations to 3 different parties on the same night or you need to figure out how you are going to cook a big holiday meal for your family while also trying to run errands, clean and decorate the house, wrap gifts, keep your kids occupied, and help your neighbor with her party planning. In this respect, there comes a time when you are stretching yourself too thin and simply need to say no to some people. It isn’t ideal, but you can’t do everything all on your own.
Dealing With Family and Parties
Family and attending events is another big thing that causes holiday stress. If there is someone that causes a lot of stress, consider skipping a party they will be at. This can be hard because other people you want to see might be there, but you need to take care of yourself first.
Young families with small children can become stressed when they are expected to hurry through opening their gifts on Christmas morning, so they can get to both sets of in-laws’ houses on Christmas Day. One solution is to have one of in-laws have their get-together on Christmas Eve, and go to the other in-law’s house later in the afternoon on Christmas Day. Or, you can have your own get-together on Christmas Eve for the in-laws, and then have all of Christmas Day to relax and enjoy your family at home.
Some people enjoy being out in the holiday shopping crowds. You can often feel the holiday spirit emanating from the people you see, even though they may be perfect strangers. But the crowds can cause stress in others, and it can just plain wear you out rushing from store to store, trying to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones. One solution is to do some, or all, of your shopping online, from the comfort of your own home.
Start saving and shopping early, enlist the help of others, and do you best to take the time to care for yourself and make your holidays an enjoyable, stress-free time.