Is holiday stress is making your holiday less joyous and more stressful? If so, you’re not alone. There’s a reason a recent poll revealed 45% of Americans face so much financial pressure due to holiday shopping stress, they would prefer to skip the holiday altogether. Not having enough money set aside to cover holiday expenses is the main reason for this sentiment. In the same poll, 59% expected to incur debt which will follow them into the new year.
But there is something you can do about it. Take a closer look at your situation; there is likely room for change.
Beat Holiday Shopping Stress with Gratitude
Simply put, instead of focusing on what you DON’T have, focus on what you DO have.
Gratitude for the relationships and love in your life will win over “stuff” anytime. Gratitude can help you manage stress. Gratitude for all of the good things in your life can change your perspective. Instead of thinking you need more stuff, you will be more grateful for what you have.
Do they need it? Do I need it?
Buying more than is needed leads to the accumulation of junk—and quite often—DEBT. Buying more than what you or your loved need will result in a lot of unused junk. It is common to blur the lines between want and need. Being grateful for what you have and buying only what you and your loved ones need can eliminate a great deal of the excess spending and excess junk which would otherwise lead to stress.
Focus on the reason for the holiday season
Many faiths, beliefs, and communities celebrate during the Winter season—and materialism was not part of the foundation of their belief system.
Even Christians can forget the true reason for the holiday. As Christmas is the Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of our savior, Christmas should be a time of sharing the love of Christ with others.
It wouldn’t hurt to show some Christ-like unconditional love to yourself as well. Feelings of inadequacy and the desire for acceptance haunt many people of all faiths, but Christians should look upon this season as a time to give and receive love; looking to the unconditional love of Christ as our example. Unfortunately, the holiday has been largely clouded with the message of giving and receiving gifts instead.
If you have enough to give, consider giving what you can to charitable causes. This can not only help you remember the reason for the season—it helps those in need.
Although going into debt from the holidays is “normal”, this is by no means a preferred outcome. Check your finances, make a budget, and stick to it. Not realizing financial limitations, or ignoring those limits altogether is unfortunately quite common.
Learn to say no! Realize that NOT buying something is also an option.
Remember: Give what you can. Don’t give what you can’t.
Feelings of Inadequacy
Shopping in order to compensate for perceived shortcomings is a common reason for overspending—especially during the holidays. “Stuff” can’t fix you or a relationship. There’s no way to “buy acceptance”. It may seem that the moment of gratitude for a gift is love and acceptance. You can buy what you think will help you gain acceptance, but it’s acceptance of a THING, not YOU. There is no substitute for a good relationship.
Improve your communication with others, learn to love and approve of them, and realize that no amount of “stuff” can change their opinion of you.
Your loved ones and friends likely already approve of you. It’s important for you to learn to love and approve of yourself.
The person you’re shopping for would probably prefer that you have financial security rather than have you go into debt to buy things for them. And if they would prefer that you go into debt for them, they aren’t worth your time, and they’re certainly not worth going into debt.
Don’t forget—stress from debt is a common cause for fights among couples and families. By buying your way to (what you think is) a better relationship, and creating financial difficulties, your efforts to improve the relationship can spectacularly backfire to cause the exact opposite of your intended outcome.
Less is more
Start thinking about buying less in order to enjoy life more.
If your family and friends are buying a gift for each person in the family or circle of friends, just a small group of 5 means that you have to buy 5 gifts for everyone. And that’s just for one group of people. This is the kind of situation in which the costs of the holidays can really add up. It’s better to do a “Secret Santa” by opting to buy a gift for just one instead of all of the people in a group.
Gift exchanges are often limited to a certain dollar amount. People often exceed the recommended amount in order to “stand out”. This can actually make others feel bad as they’ve spend less by comparison; it’s better for everyone involved to stick to the limits.
So many problems start with couples, families, friends, and co-workers when there is no communication about expectations and limits. Instead of going into debt to buy something expensive for someone in order to maintain or enhance the relationship, it’s better to find out what they actually want.
Feelings of inadequacy and communication problems can be resolved, and relationships can be enhanced with counseling. Contact CrossRoads for counseling at 317-842-8881.