Tips for Budgeting Finances & Protecting Mental Health During the Holidays
It is no surprise that there is a link between financial health and mental health. Finances can be a huge source of stress, leading to periods of depression, anxiety, overwhelm, and worry. It can impact your sleep, self-esteem, relationships, and energy levels. Not to mention, the more strapped we are financially the less likely we are to seek help for mental health struggles. It’s a double-edged sword—more stress and less money to spend on stress relief.
Finances tend to feel extra stressful during the holiday season when we are not only worrying about the usual day-to-day but also purchasing gifts and cards and preparing extravagant meals and parties. At CW Psychological Services, we frequently work with clients during this time of the year to help identify and reduce stress in their lives. Developing a budget and sticking to it can be a big way to tackle financial stress.
Our counselors and therapists have developed this list of tips for keeping your budget in check and ultimately protecting your mental health during the holidays:
1.) Create a budget and stick to it — Look at your finances and determine what amount you can spend during the holidays that won’t leave you feeling regretful in the new year. Then, take that budget and determine how much you can spend on each person on your gift list.
2.) Minimize your gift list — While it can feel nice to give gifts to everyone you know during the holiday season, that is an easy way to go over your budget. Often this type of gift-giving doesn’t provide much joy to each person—recipient or giver—as the recipient may then feel obligated to purchase a gift they weren’t originally planning on giving. Instead, consider giving people a nice note or practice simply being kind.
3.) Consider a Secret Santa — Gift-giving tactics like Secret Santa can be a great way to limit purchases. Instead of buying for everyone in your family, pick names out of a hat and assign one person to each giver. That way, no one is left out and you are only responsible for one gift. Often, it’s also helpful to give a spending limit to ensure no one is going over the top.
3.) Start shopping early — If you can start your holiday shopping early, you can look for deals and spread the financial strain over several months rather than cramming it into a few weeks.
4.) Track spending —It is great to have a budget, but it is hard to stick to it if you don’t keep track of spending as you go. Use an app or write down purchases so you can keep an accurate count of where you stand. The idea is to minimize surprises.
5.) Get Creative — Sometimes the best gifts aren’t the ones that come with a high price tag. Instead of buying gifts for those on your list consider handmade items like scarves, pictures, baked goods, frozen meals, and canned soups, or volunteering for a service like shoveling snow. Gifts that provide help to others when they are also feeling stressed can be the best kinds.
6.) Give from the heart rather than the wallet — The holiday season is supposed to be about helping those in need, and spreading kindness and cheer, not about going into deep financial debt. Consider writing kind notes to people in your life that might lift them in times of struggle. Clean out your closet to provide donations for those in need. Or, volunteer your time at a soup kitchen or other organization.
Don’t forget about self-care
While you may be thinking of letting go of self-care items that cost money during the holidays, like counseling sessions or exercise classes, remember that self-care is crucial to keeping you healthy. It is more important than ever to keep taking care of YOU. There are many additional pressures on you during this time.
Self-care helps to keep you centered, so you can find calm and peace. It helps to minimize symptoms of depression and anxiety. So, keep up with that yoga routine, therapy schedule, or whatever keeps you sane. Get help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to reach out. It is ok to ask for help. Cut yourself slack when you feel overwhelmed, and remember you can always say “no.”
Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania?
Counselors and associate-level clinicians at CW Psychological Services are professionally trained. We have openings for online or telehealth therapy appointments. Email us at [email protected] or call (610) 308-7575. We are here for you.