It’s that time of year again and the holidays always seem to sneak up on us faster than we think!  Although the holidays are meant to be filled with joy and cheer, it can also be a time filled with lots and lots of stress! For many people, it can be hard to try to balance the stress with the happiness that is meant to surround the holidays.    I mean let’s face it, although we want to bring out the kid in ourselves, the reality is that the holidays also bring a lot of responsibility and craziness.  That’s why, it’s important to outline some of the top stressors that most people tend to have and what you can do to try to alleviate it.  Here are five of the top stressors most people experience around the holidays.

1.) Rushing to Get Things Done and Struggling to Find the Time

While all the holidays are enjoyable for the most part, they seem to come sooner and sooner each year.  You may tell yourself each year, “I’m going to have a game plan and get all of my shopping done before Thanksgiving.”  While that may actually ring true for some, most of us tend to fall behind quickly and we find ourselves rushing to get last minute gifts and to have our holiday preparations done.  This can cause a lot of stress, especially depending on your personality type.  If you’re more of the go with the flow Type B personality, it may not cause much worry.  However, if you’re like me and you’re the Type A organized personality, this can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for some.

What To Do:  If you find yourself to be in this spot each year, here are some things you can try to do to make things easier.  Start by looking at the calendar and actually schedule in your shopping time around your work schedule, your kid’s schedules, and where you have openings of free time.  Also, if you’re ordering online, set a date and time that you need to have things ordered by to make sure everything arrives on time.  Lastly, create a list for each person you are looking to buy for so you can check off your list as you go.

2.) Dealing with Difficult Family Members

With the holidays sometimes come the busy and large family gatherings.  While it’s great to have the family together, there may be specific family members that you sometimes tend to butt heads with.  Trust me, we’ve all been there before and it’s common to have disagreements or arguments of some sort with a specific family member.  This can cause a lot of stress, however, and it may cause you to dread attending these events or you may end up feeling uncomfortable.  That’s not a fun way to spend the holidays, so it’s important to have a game plan as to how you’ll tackle some of the harder family members to get along with.

What To Do:  Try your best to be cordial with everyone and treat everyone equally.  Avoid conversations that tend to steer towards politics or trying to compare one another to others.  Try to be a good listener and avoid saying anything that may cause conflict.  Try not to challenge your family members and even if you don’t agree with something someone says, it may be best to hold your tongue (even if it’s only for that one day).  If there’s something that bothers you, try your best to keep it for another day and then have a constructive conversation with that person or family member.  It can be hard, but remember it’s just one day and it’s best to try to keep the peace.

3.) Money Emptying From Your Pockets!

Well, this is definitely a big one for most people.  The holidays are expensive!!!  It can be overwhelming when you think about all the people you have to shop for on your holiday list.  You may even find yourself working extra hours at the office just to be able to afford gifts, which in itself can develop into more stress.  Not only is it hard to be able to pay off regular monthly bills in general, but add a holiday list full of expensive items to that budget and it can cause even more anxiety.  This is definitely a giant stressor for most individuals.

What To Do:  Start budgeting even a few months before the holidays.  Start putting money away into a savings account simply dedicated towards the holidays.  Then, once the holiday season starts up you’ll have a sigh of relief knowing you have funds to pull from.  Another option is to try and limit the amount of money you’re going to spend.  Explain to your family that you have a budget of x amount of dollars to spend on each person.  This way, an expectation won’t be ruined for someone if they know what you were planning on from the start.  Lastly, you can try something new.  Perhaps each family member only buys for certain people or you decide to do a white elephant gift exchange.  Sometimes, you can start new traditions, which can help to alleviate the financial strain of the holidays.

4.) Exhaustion

Exhaustion and overwhelming tiredness can certainly lead to stress.  Sometimes the holidays have us on the go so much that it’s hard to find time to relax and to unwind.  We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of getting gifts, trying to keep everyone happy, and trying to keep up with the holiday cheer that it drains us.  There may be some days where you just want to hunker down and keep to yourself, which is fine.  The holidays can be claustrophobic at times and wanting to get away is normal and needed.

What To Do:  Find time to relax.  Take an hour or two either on the weekend or on a weeknight to indulge in the things you enjoy.  Whether that’s watching your favorite television show, having a bubble bath, reading a favorite book, or driving around the block, make sure you have something you can turn to before the stress begins to rear it’s ugly head.  If the stress becomes overwhelming, have someone you can turn to in order to vent and get things off your chest.  Whether this is a close friend or a counselor, it’s important to alleviate the worries and concerns you have.  If you bottle it up, the stress may pop up when you least expect it and we all know that usually doesn’t turn out very well.  Basically, be proactive and take time for you!

5.) Crowds

Crowds in general can usually bring about a lot of annoyance, however, the holidays even more so bring about a lot of people all at once and cause dramatic stress.  Let’s face it, when there’s a lot of people in one space, it’s not always going to be the type of people that are polite and well mannered.  It’s usually a fine mix of kind, pushy, rude, and indifferent folks.  It can be stressful especially for those who deal with social anxiety on a regular basis.  If anything, the holiday tends to intensify this stress and cause an overwhelming amount of concerns.  Getting in and out of a store becomes harder, people push and crowd, parking is harder to find, and lines are out the door! Even restaurants and social events become busier and it can be hard to find that much needed space.  You may find yourself close to wanting to tear your hair out and even the thought of going out to the store produces an anxious response.

What To Do:  Seeing as we are in the digital age, one way to beat the hustle and bustle of crowds is to do your shopping online.  Places such as Amazon and other websites provide an easy and efficient way to get your shopping done.  With the click of a button, your gifts can be delivered in a week or even 2 days.  Another option is to try and do your shopping later in the evenings during the week or early in the morning.  Avoid the after work shoppers and the weekend shoppers by trying to shop in the “off” hours.  If going out to dinner, try to pick a night of the week that is usually quieter and less busy.

The holidays can be a stressful time, but they can also be an extremely fun and enjoyable time of year too if you play your cards right!  The best thing to do is plan ahead, take time for you, and execute!  Here’s hoping it’s a happy and stress free holiday!