5 Ways to Stop Holiday Stress Before It Starts 

The holidays have arrived in 2021 and for most people, the stress has, too.  

As we trot away from Thanksgiving it’s time to look ahead to Christmas, which can bring a fair amount of anxiety, stress, and financial strain for those who don’t prepare to get ahead of the madness.  

Make realistic expectations  

There’s nothing wrong with envisioning an awesome family Christmas, unless you’re expecting everything to be as perfect as some of the scenes you scroll past on Instagram.  

You may not find every gift you shop for and you may not get the desired reaction on every gift you hand out. Plus, as families evolve, rituals change. Parents with adult children will inevitably see some holiday traditions come to an end as their children grow up and, in some cases, move away.  

Take this opportunity to introduce new traditions, like virtual gift unwrapping or a Christmas movie watch-along. If you are celebrating your first holiday after the passing of a loved one, start a new tradition in their honor. Cook their favorite dish for Christmas each year or make a playlist of their favorite songs. Or try launching a new tradition among the family like a themed gift exchange or a holiday family walk.  

Set a budget and stick to it  

This one has “easier said than done” written all over it, but it can be done.  

Gifts, food, travel, and decorations all might factor into your budget so be kind to your bank account this Christmas and avoid impulse purchases.  

For some people, there is real merit in making an organized, physical guideline to follow. So, when drafting your budget, write down the names of everyone you’ll buy gifts for this year and set a dollar figure for each person. Then, track your spending as you go with a rolling log.  

You can also try brainstorming a couple of homemade gift ideas specific to each person on your list to keep that budget on track.  

Shop little by little 

Pacing yourself is key in avoiding holiday shopping stress. Odds are, if you’ve been doing this for 10 or 20 holiday seasons, you don’t need to be told to start early. But the savings seem to start earlier and earlier each year, so consider knocking out an hour or two of shopping each weekend for the next month.  

Starting early also gives you wiggle room against online shipping delays. Nightmarish traffic and crowded stores await if you cram all your shopping into the last two weeks of December.   

Take advantage of togetherness and put aside family differences 

As the world learned to navigate COVID-19, many in-person Christmas plans were cancelled last year. Family gatherings should be a lot more common in 2021, so if there are family and friends you don’t always agree with, set aside differences and be grateful for togetherness.  

The possibility for family tension is there more than ever during the pandemic. Consider setting boundaries ahead of time, by reaching out to family and making it clear that you don’t want to talk about certain topics, like politics or vaccination stance, for example.  

Delegate tasks  

You may feel like Superwoman or Superman once December hits, but you’ll only increase your stress level by trying to do it all this holiday season. Ask your family, friends, or neighbors to help with decorations.  

Your time is even more precious around the holidays, so save some of it when you can.  

Keep reading: 

Help! I Feel Sad During the Holidays

How to Help Your Friends be Less Negative

A New Approach to Dealing with Chronic Pain

Photo credit: Getty Images

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