Picture this if you can: holidays without the stress of buying hoards of gifts, burning batches of Christmas cookies and making the house spotless before your relatives arrive. While you may still choose to buy gifts, cook and clean, wouldn’t it be nice to have a stress-free holiday this season?
For some, stress creeps up from the moment that holiday music is heard on the radio in what seems like mid-October. Americans listed lack of money and time, pressures of gift giving and credit card debt as their top causes of holiday stress, according to a 2006 survey by the American Psychological Association.
So how can you stay positive and relatively stress-free this year?
Since lack of money was the biggest stresser for surveyed Americans, sticking to a budget and getting creative may make a difference this season.
“We make a lot of our gifts and love to barter for toys with local merchants,” says Andrea Branagan, a mother of two who lives with her husband in East Orlando. “It really does help to know that money doesn’t have to be involved to find the perfect gift.”
The APA recommends setting realistic goals like dealing with small holiday tasks one at a time to keep things in perspective and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Celebrating traditions with loved ones is another way to cope with holiday stress. “For many years we have purchased food from a local restaurant to go and give to the local homeless camp here in East Orlando,” says Branagan. They also buy dinners and pies which they give to the first people they see on Christmas Eve.
Remembering that the holidays are a time of family love and togetherness can be a challenge, but it may help to ease the stress as well. And, this year, the holidays will be an even greater time for love and support for the Branagan family since they are still grieving over the loss of their newborn baby girl, Story. “In addition to giving dinners to the homeless we will be donating new baby outfits in Story’s memory to Parrish Hospital Maternity Ward for mothers who need them,” she says.
For Branagan and family, the holidays are about more than presents and decorations.
So instead of stressing this holiday season, sing some Christmas carols, sip some hot chocolate and take Branagan’s advice – remember what the holidays are really about.
Article by Aimee Hoyt