According to a new poll from the American Psychological Association (APA), more than eight out of ten women anticipate a stressful holiday season due to financial concerns. The poll found that women are significantly more likely than men to worry about having enough money to purchase gifts.
“Many people feel overwhelmed during the holiday season, and given the current economic crisis, the pressures can be extraordinary,” says psychologist Katherine Nordal, PhD, APA’s executive director for professional practice. “These unrelenting financial stressors can become a real health issue for women who continue to report stress at dangerously high levels and for families who are in an important position of teaching stress-management strategies to children.”
APA suggests the following strategies to help Americans prevent holiday stress and enjoy a worry-free season:
1. Take time for yourself – There may be pressure to be everything to everyone during the holiday season. Remember that you’re only one person and can accomplish only certain things. Sometimes self-care is the best thing you can do—others will benefit when you’re stress-free. Go for a long walk, get a massage or take time out to listen to your favorite music or read. By slowing down, you will actually have more energy to accomplish your goals.
2. Volunteer – Many charitable organizations also suffer during the holidays. Find one, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter, where you and your family can volunteer. Helping those who are living in true poverty may help you put your own economic struggles in perspective and help to teach your children the joy in giving and doing for others.
3. Have realistic expectations – No Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or other holiday celebration is perfect; view inevitable missteps as opportunities to demonstrate flexibility and resilience. A lopsided tree or a burned brisket won’t ruin your holiday; rather, it can create a family memory. If your children’s wish list is outside your budget, take this opportunity to teach them about finances and remind them that the holidays aren’t about expensive gifts.
4. Remember what’s important – The barrage of holiday advertising can make you forget what the holiday season is really about. When your holiday expense list is running longer than your monthly budget, scale back and remind yourself that what makes a great celebration is family, not store-bought presents, elaborate decorations or gourmet food. It’s the relationships in our lives that are most important.
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