MANAGE YOUR MONEY TO MANAGE STRESS DURING HOLIDAY SEASON

 

New Hampshire Psychological Association (NHPA) Offers Strategies to Minimize Holiday Stress

 

Yes, the holiday season can be a time of joy and reflection, but it can also bring added stress to the many Americans who already experience high stress throughout the year. Money, in particular, can be a cause of stress, as people feel demands to purchase gifts, decorations and other items tied to holiday celebrations. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) Stress in America survey cites money as one of the top three stressors Americans report, and it is important to recognize its heightened effect during the holidays.

 

“With constant holiday advertising, the stress around shopping and gift giving can be overwhelming” says Kathryn Robbins, Ph.D.. “This stress can negatively impact our physical and emotional well-being. So many people are struggling during these hard economic times. The good news is that a happy holiday is about spending time in a way that is meaningful to you, and not about extravagant gifts and celebrations. Stress around money and spending can be managed in a healthy way by refocusing on what’s important during the season.”  

 

APA’s Stress in America survey (www.stressinamerica.org) has regional data on stress, physical and emotional implications of stress, and the inextricable link between the mind and body.  Common behaviors can be used to manage stress and the impact of stress on our lives.

 

APA and the New Hampshire Psychological Association suggest the following strategies to help manage holiday stress—whether for yourself or for a friend/relative/colleague/neighbor: 

  • Reframe. Refocus the holiday season on spending time with loved ones by creating a realistic budget for gifts and reminding your children that the holidays aren’t about expensive toys. This reframing can help you better manage your stress about spending and redefine the celebration around what’s truly important. 
  • Volunteer. Make the primary focal point of the holiday about helping others in need. Go to a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter, where you and your loved ones can volunteer together during the holiday and throughout the year. Helping others can put your challenges in perspective and build stronger community relationships. 
  • Be active.  Exercise of any variety can help you feel more calm and react less stressfully to events.  No matter where you live or the weather, going for a family walk will help manage your stress and perhaps start a free and fun holiday tradition. If you have snow, bundle up for riding sleds or building snowmen. Maybe you would like to do yoga, go to the gym, or play a sport.  Many local parks and community centers have holiday activities for the family, which can keep your family active and away from the constant temptations of expensive gifts and fattening foods that appear around the holidays. 
  • Take time for yourself. Taking care of yourself helps you to take better care of others in your life. Go for a long walk, take a needed nap, relax by reading something that interests you, listen to your favorite music, or engage in a favorite hobby. By slowing down you may find you have a better outlook on the season and more energy to accomplish your holiday goals.  
  • Seek support. Talk about stress related to money and the holidays with your friends and family whom you trust. Getting things out in the open can help you navigate your feelings and work toward a solution. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, consider talking with a psychologist, who can help you build on your coping strategies and better manage your stress. A psychologist provides support and has the skills and professional training to help people learn to manage stress and cope more effectively with life’s problems. 

To find a psychologist, visit http://locator.apa.org/ or NHPA’s referral service at http://nhpaonline.org/members/cgi/p-search.htm. For further information on when to consult a psychologist and common reasons people do so, see http://nhpaonline.org/public/disorders.htm.

 

NHPA currently has a specialty page online that discusses the effects of financial stress on mental health and provides links to sources for coping with job loss, work place stress, and getting through tough economic times: http://nhpaonline.org/public/financestress.htm

 

For additional information on general stress and lifestyle and behavior, visit www.apa.org/helpcenter, read the blog www.yourmindyourbody.orgor follow @apahelpcenter on Twitter.

 

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives. 

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