Do the holidays sometimes leave you feeling stressed? If too much prepping, planning, and picture-perfect expectations make you feel frazzled instead of festive, you’re not alone.
Lots of people feel overwhelmed by the holidays in an ordinary year. Now, since many of us missed out on spending time with family and friends due to the pandemic in 2020, our expectations might be higher than ever this season.
So to help you out, we’re sharing some holiday stress management tips to follow this season and you’ll end up feeling overjoyed — not overwhelmed.
Holiday stress management tip #1: Control your spending
Canadians expect to spend more than ever in holiday 2021 — maybe as much as 30 per cent more than last year, according to some reports. Is that a good idea? It depends on your financial situation. Control your spending and you could feel better overall.
“There’s always a lot going on in our life that we can’t control,” says Dr. Gillian Mandich, a London, Ontario-based happiness researcher and founder of the International Happiness Institute of Health Science Research. “At the holidays, that’s even more true.”
She says research into human happiness tells us that a sense of autonomy — or control — is a major contributor to happiness. No wonder the holidays can be such a challenge: There’s so much we can’t control, from busy schedules to busybody relatives.
But we can exercise our autonomy and stick to our budget when we spend on gifts for others (and, let’s be honest, ourselves).
Set a clear budget for gifts and celebrations early in the season and stick to your limit. It’s easier said than done. Maybe you can distract yourself from spending money by focusing on important things that are free, like spending time with your favourite people.
Holiday stress management tip #2: Stay in control with Interac Debit
When you pay with Interac Debit, you’re paying with real money in your account. This can help you feel more in control of your finances, since you can easily keep track of the actual funds you have (or don’t have) left.
Think of staying debt-free as a gift you can give your future self. You’ll thank yourself later when there isn’t a big January surprise bill waiting for you.
Holiday stress management tip #3: Create situations you can control
Spending your budget on activities and experiences rather than material things can help you in a couple of ways. First, as research has shown — including results of an experiment that Interac shared this year — experiences often make us happier than stuff.
Second, creating experiences can be your secret weapon for getting some of the holiday chaos under control — and creating quality time. Spending money on moments solves one of the biggest challenges of the holidays for some. “One of the emotional pitfalls that we see over the holidays is lack of presence,” Gillian says, in the sense that “we’re so busy that we’re not actually enjoying one another’s company.”
Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to round up the whole family for a nice group photo? Or … do you just forget to take one in the first place? In that case, you can capture a lasting memory by hiring a photographer instead of leaving things to chance. (And remember that many small business people, like photographers, appreciate receiving payments via Interac e-Transfer!)
Holiday stress management tip #4: Keep those sky-high expectations in check. Don’t forget to experience the moment.
Social media has set expectations we can’t possibly live up to: the perfect tree, the enviable outfit, the best-decorated party. Failing to live up to our own #holidaygoals can make us feel miserable.
Gillian says it’s important to keep things in perspective. “There’s no such thing as a perfect holiday — and a lot of the images that we see around it aren’t even real. Even if you see someone’s perfect photo, chances are there’s family fighting right before and kids doing something after.”
Appreciate the holiday you’re actually having rather than feeling bad about the one you imagined in your head. And remember that when we look back later, we often find that the silly mix-ups and mishaps made deeper memories than plans that went off without a hitch. Right?
Holiday stress management tip #5: If all else fails … bake? (and throw on some music)
You might find it soothing to put on a holiday playlist and fill your home with the aroma of holiday treats. So here’s a super-easy recipe from Little Sister Baking in Toronto to sweeten up the moments of mayhem.
And while you bake…
Keep the mood festive and cheery with The Interac Holiday Playlist!