For some people, the holiday season is very stressful. People stress over not having enough time to prepare the way they'd like or not having enough money to buy the presents they'd like. Social demands and expectations family members may have contribute to the stress of the season. Not only do people end up in debt, they may end up frustrated, angry or depressed because of the stresses the holidays bring.

The stresses of the holiday season often take their toll on us in three areas: Time/Energy; Financial and Emotional. Time/Energy refers to the demands upon your time and energy. Holiday stress can make you tired, and fatigue makes it tougher to cope with things not going according to plan
Often people are busier during the holiday season–trying to fit buying presents, decorating, holiday concerts, events and parties into an already packed schedule. The results may be overwhelming stress or even illness when we don't take the time to rest.
The financial stresses of the holidays are obvious to most of us. The desire to make the holiday special can lead to overspending on gifts, food or trips to see family or friends. The result is debt that follows you into the New Year–the stress that keeps on giving.

Emotional stresses usually have to do with our expectations about how the holidays will be. When our plans don't work out exactly as we'd hoped, we end up frustrated and irritable, often taking it out on the innocent–our families or strangers we encounter on the road or in the mall. Since we often take our emotions out on those we love the most, we run the risk of damaging our relationships. Emotional stress can also take its toll on us in the form of anxiety, depression and feelings of being overwhelmed.

What can you do to survive the holiday stress? First of all, recognize the problem. Figure out which of the areas is affected in your life: time/energy, financial or emotional? Then, start with the assumption that "you can't do it all."

Set priorities about what is most important to you. Think about the time that your activities will take. What will you have to take time and energy away from in order to do those things? See which things you're willing to eliminate. You don't have to attend all the parties, or you can show up for a short period of time. Ask yourself, "What can I give up?" And "What can I change to make it more manageable?" In the midst of it all, make sure you take time for yourself–to exercise, to nap, to replenish yourself in whatever way you do that.

When thinking about financial stresses, again, set priorities for how you spend your money. If you are buying gifts or planning activities, think about the money they will take. How can you reduce the amount of money you spend? Can you set spending limits? Can you do something besides buying a gift to capture the meaning of the season? Can you make arrangements with family or friends to put spending limits on gifts? Use unique ideas such as "grab bag gifts under $10", drawing names, or arranging to exchange "recycled gifts." Set a spending limit and stick to it. Remember that the holidays aren't intended to make you broke.

When thinking about the emotional stresses, again, set priorities! Remember the reason for the season. What do you really want to celebrate? What's most important to you and your family? As you look at the things you want to do for the holidays, look for ways you can reduce the stress associated with them. Set boundaries. Don't let people, even those you love, talk you into doing things you don't want to do. If you aren't sure if you want to do it or not, say "No." If you can't or don't want to do what you've always done, start your own holiday traditions. YOU are responsible for making your holiday stress-less.

(c) 2009 Linda S. Pucci, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Pucci, Ph.D. is a psychologist, life coach, trainer and owner of Inner Resource Center, LLC. She has more than 30 years of experience helping people overcome obstacles, change their lives, and reach goals they had not thought possible using her solution focused approach. She specializes in helping people get unstuck from negative emotions and limiting beliefs that cause stress and sabotage their happiness. Get additional free tips and challenges for getting unstuck from her Inner Resources report . Or contact her for a free 20 minute consultation at .