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There’s no question that 2020 has been an emotionally challenging year for everyone. Some households experienced significant income losses due to job furloughs. Others faced at-home learning with the kids and remote working changes. Add in the ongoing risks of the pandemic and politically-charged election, and you have countless reasons to have sleepless nights.

Now, the holiday season approaches, and you, too, may be worrying about finances, socially distant get-togethers, and last-minute holiday gift-giving. What’s supposed to be a wonderful time of year is proving to be ever demanding. To help you find some peace of mind amidst all the chaos and challenges, here are three tips and suggestions to help you relax and get through the season and navigate holiday stress with a positive outlook.

Calming Any Mental & Emotional Stress

One of the most essential paths to finding peace during stressful times lies in handling your mental and emotional stresses. Holiday stress can be avoided if you can take time to allow yourself to process your feelings. Dedicate time to self-care, including eating habits, routine exercise, and taking breaks away from work or family when you need it.

Calming Techniques
Medical professionals, including those associated with the Mayo Clinic, suggest practicing calming techniques during especially challenging times and holiday stress. Deliberate deep breathing, for example, can help slow the rush of negative thoughts and increase oxygen flow. Taking time in the morning to do muscle stretches can also be helpful in starting your day with calmness. Taking adequate breaks throughout the day can also offer benefits. Overworking, overlearning, and overdoing can cause burnout. Be mindful about scheduling time to step away from tasks and hectic situations to recalibrate your thinking.

Finding Joy Where You Can
Some of the mindfulness experts suggest finding peace by seeking it out where you can. There are plenty of reasons to find stress, conflict, or drama. And waiting around for something positive to happen can lead to ongoing disappointment. Instead, look for the silver linings and purposely remind yourself of how situations present the glass half-full. Appreciate others and practice empathy. Maybe you’re disappointed about having to work on Christmas Eve, for example. But having a job right now can be a blessing when so many Americans are still unemployed this season. Seek out reasons to be thankful, and you will find more peace with your situation.

Seeking Help During the Toughest Times
Holiday stress can compound other ongoing stress in your life. And there’s no amount of deep breathing that will contend with anxiety, depression, or consequentially negative thoughts. Be mindful of your internal dialogue and recognize when it’s time to reach out for help. If you’re struggling, reach out to your physician or virtually connect with a professional. You’re not alone, and there are a host of options to help find your way to a more peaceful life.

Finding Peace with Your New Normal

Part of the reason you may be feeling holiday stress is due to the robust list of things you can’t control this year. You can’t change the effects of the pandemic, and you certainly can’t change your Uncle Joe’s political views. But you can still find ways to relax and enjoy the season by learning to let go of those circumstances you can’t control and carving out happiness in a new normal.

What a Successful Holiday Season Can Be
You might not be able to host the extended family dinner this year, but you can do something special to honor your immediate family. Instead of dwelling on what you’ll miss out on this year, carve out a new tradition, to embrace happiness and joy this year. If the risks are too great for distant family members to travel, instead, set up your living room television with a camera to hook up your pc to allow a zoom meeting Christmas morning. You can mail gifts and open them together, virtually.

Creating & Tackling To-Do Lists
Another way to avoid being discouraged about what you can’t do is by creating to-do lists of things you can do. Consider creating goals and tasks that are easily achievable and build momentum and a sense of accomplishment. Maybe set time to bake cookies with the little ones or find DIY crafts online that make use of regular household items. Schedule a quick ten minutes to change over a load of laundry or to vacuum an area rug. Put those daunting tasks on the list, too. But you won’t feel as discouraged if you don’t get to them because you’ve steadily checked off those smaller tasks along the way.

Realistic Expectations of Yourself and Others
The new normal this year means you can’t expect things to be like they were. Make a point to realign any expectations you had for yourself, the holidays, and others. What the holiday season ends up being will undoubtedly be very different from years past. And you can’t expect others to fall in line with past behaviors, either. Everyone is experiencing challenges this year and coping in their own ways. Be easy on yourself as well as others. Don’t worry about perfection from anyone or anything around you, and you’ll find the sting of disappointment to be a little less painful.

Calming Ways to Face Financial Challenges

At the heart of holiday stress, whether it’s this year or five years ago, is often finances. And this year may have been increasingly difficult if you’ve experienced a job loss or have mounting medical bills. There are a few considerations when you sit down with your checkbook and a stack of past-due notices. And there are a few ways to find peace of mind, even financially.

Rework Your Holiday Budget
Before you even spend a dime on holiday gifts, you should first consider carving out a realistic budget for yourself. You can’t buy happiness, even if you feel guilty about this year. There’s no need to spend $500 on a gaming console right now, especially if it’s going to set you back. Instead, explore more thoughtful ways of giving with homemade presents or smaller, charitable donations. And since you’re not gathering with extended family, maybe this year is a good time to do a smaller gift exchange, instead of everyone buying for everyone. The key is to know your budgetary limit and to stick to it, to avoid another stressful month in January.

Planning for Now & Later
Consider planning financially for not just today’s bills but tomorrow’s payment notices, as well. Financial gurus like Dave Ramsey suggest doing your best to set aside cash in savings, even if it’s a marginal amount. You also want to keep those credit card balances in check, so avoid overspending. And instead of buying extra presents right now, consider paying down that lower balance card to have a more digestible roster of bills to pay next month. As you look at your bank account, don’t overlook planning for meals, everyday groceries, and gas money. Planning ahead can help you avoid last minute, and often expensive, incidental spending.

Enroll for Marketplace Health Insurance
Another way to plan ahead and alleviate worry this holiday season is to enroll in an affordable health insurance plan for 2021 coverage. Open Enrollment is happening now, and time is running out to make your selection. Finances may be tight, but even the most marginal of budgets can find an affordable plan. Taking care of your health insurance needs can significantly relieve stress since you’ll know you and your family will have access to reliable care and insurance provisions.

It’s a tough year for everyone and holiday stress is a real phenomenon. Tap into some of these stress-reducing ideas and do your best to relax over the next few weeks. And if you need extra help deciding on a health insurance plan for next year, browse the Marketplace with W3LL.

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