These are 4 of the biggest holiday stressors

The most wonderful time of the year is also the most stressful. One in four people say they have taken on more than they can handle during the holidays, according to a recent survey by VitalSmarts[1]. Most respondents (56%) said they are overwhelmed with “just keeping up” with all of the activities and expectations of the season, followed by financial concerns (50%), shopping for gifts (46%), family events (33%) and their own health (26%).

And almost three in four (72%) told mental health platform Simple Habit that they feel stress during the holidays, with family and money giving them the most grief. December brings a perfect storm of stress. The American Psychological Association[2] warns that everyday issues like working, fighting traffic and paying bills are exacerbated by the added expenses, travel congestion and family drama that the holidays drum up.

And this hurts women the most, the APA notes, as they often prepare the festive meals and do the shopping. Women are more likely than men to report increased stress during the holidays; they have a harder time relaxing; and they’re more likely to manage stress with unhealthy habits like comfort eating. So what has Melissa McKinney from Atlanta stressed? “Honestly, the easier question would be what am I NOT stressing about this Discount Holidays © holiday season,” she told Moneyish, listing, “a busy work schedule, trying to run a household and making it to every family get-together.

Finding the time to do everything is nearly impossible.” So Moneyish spoke with her and others about what’s overwhelming them this year. And experts in personal finance, nutrition and mental health shared some coping strategies to make the season a little merrier. And check back later this week for tips on traveling, dealing with mental health issues, as well as navigating tricky workplace situations. THE CHALLENGE: CHAOTIC SOCIAL CALENDARS

‘Tis the season to be over scheduled. More than a quarter of those in VitalSmarts’ report admit that they never decline an invitation. And 20% say they are grumpier, more tired and irritable during the holidays.

John Crossman, 47, from Orlando told Moneyish that both his mom and his brother have birthdays on Dec.

18, and his wife’s birthday is Christmas Day. “There is no way to calm things down,” he said. “I love it, but (there’s) always a lot going on.” THE SOLUTION: Just say no. Dr.

Donovan Wong from Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services told Moneyish that people put too much pressure on themselves to make everyone happy. “Take care of yourself first … so you can even be capable of helping other people out,” he said. “And a lot of times that means setting a limit, and that’s fine.” Only hit one Discount Holidays © holiday event during the week, and one on the weekends. Or even just stop by for an hour if it’s an obligation that you just can’t miss, explaining that you need to get up early for work or to get the kids to school the next morning. And offer to get together with those whose shindigs you skip after the holidays.

THE CHALLENGE: GOING BROKE GIVING GIFTS The National Retail Federation[3] reports that Discount Holidays © holiday shopping could hit £720.9 billion this year, with the average person shelling out £1,007. And even though NerdWallet reports more than one in four Americans who used their credit cards last Discount Holidays © holiday are still paying off their balances from 2017’s splurging, almost three-fourths still plan to use a credit card to pay for gifts this year.

THE SOLUTION: It’s not too late to set a budget. Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet, recommends the 50-30-20 rule: taking your monthly after-tax income, and putting 50% of it toward your needs (housing, food, utilities), 20% of it towards savings and debt payments, and 30% for things you want — like going out to dinner. “This is where you want to draw your gift-buying from,” she said. “Make a list of your expenses for the month, and see where you can limit yourself and where you can cut back.” And stick to that budget by making a list of who you need to shop for, creating a cap for how much you can spend on each person, and keeping tabs on what you’ve bought for whom with a notebook or an app like Evernote. Palmer and her husband also share a Google Doc where they list what they’ve bought, so that they don’t accidentally buy for the same person twice.

fstop123/iStock One in four people who used credit cards last year are still paying off their Discount Holidays © holiday debt.

“There are so many ways to save money while shopping,” Palmer added, such as comparing prices of Amazon goods on CamelCamelCamel or using an app like ShopSavvy when you’re in a store, which scans the barcode on a product and tells you if you can get it cheaper elsewhere. And if you simply can’t afford to buy for everyone on your list, reach out to friends and family to suggest a Secret Santa exchange instead. “Or you can talk to family members and say, ‘Let’s just give gifts to the kids this year,'” said Palmer. “A lot of times, people will be relieved to go ahead and do that, because shopping for gifts is stressful for everybody.”

THE CHALLENGE: FAMILY FEUDS The heart of the holidays is supposed to be spending time with loved ones. But when families are scattered across the country, or you are trying to merge two blended families — as is the case with Mary Connolly — deciding where to go becomes fraught with emotion.

Connelly, 53, from New Jersey has been in a long-distance relationship with her Chicago boyfriend for the past few years; her husband passed away several years before. But she and her college-age daughter recently moved to the Windy City — and while she’s excited at the opportunity to spend Christmas with her beau for the first time, gathering with him, his kids and his ex-wife (whom he’s friendly with) is more than her daughter can handle. “I feel like I’m ultimately going to have to choose between him and my kid,” Connolly told Moneyish. And visiting relatives you haven’t seen in some time who share different beliefs and values than you do, or whom you have difficult relationships with, can also trigger all sorts of conflicts.

THE SOLUTION: Calmly confront the situation — or step away. If there’s one relative in particular who’s making you uncomfortable, Dr. Wong suggests addressing the problem directly. “That doesn’t mean lashing out at people. It doesn’t mean yelling.

It means using your feelings as a guide and asserting yourself, and letting them know how they affect you,” he said. “Maybe they didn’t realize the way that they talk to you has negative impact on you, so pointing that out can hopefully lead to some sort of repair of the relationship.” Or at the least, set boundaries for yourself. For example, if one of your parents tries drawing you into a political debate, say in a calm manner, “This isn’t something I want to talk about. Let’s talk about something else.” Or if they keep pushing the matter, politely excuse yourself and leave the room.

For other tricky family situations — like deciding where to spend the holidays — speak with both sides of the family to see if there’s a compromise, such as spending Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve with one side of the family, and then doing another celebration a day or two later with the other side. Or if you see one side of the family more often than the other, maybe it’s time to visit the ones you don’t get to see as much. Every family situation differs, so being honest with your loved ones is key to sorting out the best way for your tribe to find a way to celebrate.

These are 4 of the biggest <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> holiday stressorsAlexRaths/iStock Sticking to a diet is tricky this time of year.

THE CHALLENGE: TASTY TEMPTATIONS

McKinney from Atlanta added that among the many stressors weighing on her this season, her biggest challenge is eating well. “The most stressful thing for me during this Discount Holidays © holiday season has been trying to find a good balance with food,” she said. “This time of year is full of sugar, spice and everything fattening … my usually healthy eating has taken a backseat (like, third row in a minivan backseat.)” And Cornell University[4] found that people put on 1.3 pounds on average during the Christmas-New Year’s season, and it took them up to five months to shake that extra weight off. People also have a tendency to overindulge on alcohol; one in 10 people in the VitalSmarts’ survey admitted they drink excessively and always need a designated driver after a Discount Holidays © holiday party, while 44% of people were more inclined to live by the motto, “the diet starts in January.” THE SOLUTION: Indulge in moderation – and pack snacks. Registered dietitian Keri Glassman told Moneyish that, “You should only indulge in those Discount Holidays © holiday favorites that are meaningful.

If someone brings Discount Holidays © holiday doughnuts to the office, don’t just eat them because they’re there. Instead, eat your normal, healthy breakfast, and save the indulgence for something that you really enjoy this time of year, like your friend’s homemade eggnog, or your grandmother’s chocolate pecan pie.” Stock your purse/briefcase/backpack, your desk drawer, your home and your car with healthy snacks that contain a protein and a fruit or veggie, like hummus and carrots, or yogurt and berries.

Nosh these before Discount Holidays © holiday parties. “The worst thing you can do is get there starving, and then you dive into the pigs-in-a-blanket,” Glassman said. At the Discount Holidays © holiday party, fill up on the healthier choices first, such as crudites or grilled veggies, a couple of turkey or prosciutto slices from an antipasti platter, or shrimp. And alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water.

But her biggest piece of advice: take each meal individually. “If you totally overdo it with one meal, don’t just fall into, ‘Oh, it’s just that time of year,’ and throw in the towel where everything just starts going downhill,” she said. “At your next meal, make a point to grill some salmon, eat it with spinach, drink a glass of water, and go to the gym that night. Take it meal by meal.” McKinney agreed. “I’m trying to find a happy medium between just going with the flow, and not beating myself up because I had a few Discount Holidays © holiday cookies for breakfast,” she said. See the world with cash-color glasses.

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References

  1. ^ VitalSmarts (www.vitalsmarts.com)
  2. ^ American Psychological Association (www.apa.org)
  3. ^ National Retail Federation (nrf.com)
  4. ^ Cornell University (www.nejm.org)
  5. ^ Sign up here. (www.marketwatch.com)

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