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How to cope with the ‘Christmas creep’ . . .

As you know I’m a sucker for the months of September, October and November! Harvest/Pumpkin Spice/Spooky vibes, weather cooling down, wardrobe changes, hot tea and warming foods. I really try to treasure this gorgeous time of burnt orange coziness.

Alas, we’re all familiar with the dreaded ‘Christmas creep’, a ploy by retailers to start the festive season as early as possible in a bid to plump profits. In previous years there have been complaints about Christmas eclipsing Halloween. I love the Christmas season just as much, but in a different way, as there is always an underlying wistfulness during Christmas that I don’t experience in the Fall.

The holidays can be stressful, and having them start in October can add to that, particularly if inflation is affecting you.

Experts say it’s understandable if the Christmas creep has you feeling more like the Grinch than Betty Lou Who, but the following tips can help you navigate those negative feelings and stress.

Practice self-awareness

You don’t have to be holly and jolly in October, nor do you need to partake in “Days of Deals” just because they exist. You can decide when the holiday season starts for you, whether that’s today or Dec. 24.

Regardless of which camp you’re in, take a breath before reacting when an email about a holiday sale in October hits your inbox, or you see holiday decorations taking over a store weeks before Halloween.

Know yourself and notice when the desire is coming from within you, intrinsic motivation, versus what you are told you should feel or do by others, or extrinsic motivation, to gauge what traditions and practice may resonate best for you.

Make a list and check it twice

Whether you’re into the deals or not, it may be tempting to partake in them. There’s also a chance it could help you save money and check some items off your list. Having a LIST can help prevent buyer’s remorse, which may only add to your Scrooge-y feelings.

While crafting the list, ask yourself:

  • Do you need to buy everyone on this list something?

  • Can you make gifts this year, such as baking or crafting?

  • Can you suggest a secret Santa-type exchange with a group, so you only have to get one gift versus gifts for everyone?

Doing this is a good idea because it asks you to be very intentional and thoughtful about who you spend your money on — where can you trim the fat, and where can you put the focus on what is most important.

Create a budget and stick to it

Your budget will likely affect your list, or at least what you buy for everyone on it. Budgeting by categories, such as gifts for family, decor, and food will ease anxiety that’s stemming from feeling out of control.

When you make a budget and stick to it, you feel more in control, and that makes you feel better and less stressed.”

Consider the budget a promise to yourself, and avoid breaking it.

Overspending and buying more than you can afford can create unhealthy amounts of stress and anxiety.

Establish boundaries

There are a ton of expectations around the holiday, from making three stops on Christmas Day to one-upping gifts from previous years. It’s OK if 2022 is different. Communicating that ahead of time may alleviate stress.

Don’t be afraid to assert yourself if you feel that the expectations to buy things around the holidays will send you into a tailspin, or you can’t afford to do too much.

Discussing money can be challenging, though, as many have been conditioned not to do it.

Boundaries sound like, “Aunt Gloria, we would really love to exchange gifts this year, but we are feeling stretched thin financially. Can we get together over coffee and cookies instead?”

Boundaries also help you feel a sense of control and prevent you from feeling resentment.

Think twice before purchasing

Limited-time offers and language like “last chance” can rush you into buying something you’re on the fence about. Ignoring the marketing jargon, especially this year, as more deals will likely come.

In general I have a rule when buying larger purchases throughout the year. I save the item to my cart and hold off for 24 hours or more. If I still want it, I will get it, but half the time I delete it, as that impulse fades away and I become more clear-headed and realize I don’t need it!

If you’re going to buy on a whim, at least check the return policy first to ensure you can get your money back if you decide you don’t want it.

Limit social media

Ads, influencers, and old friends who seem to somehow enjoy the Christmas creep can exacerbate stress. It may make you feel like you should be more excited, less stressed, and cheerfully starting your holiday shopping. Avoid FOMO by keeping social media in perspective and potentially taking a temporary break.

Notice when you feel influenced to do something because you are attempting to capture a fantasy projected on someone’s Instagram or TikTok!

Find support

The holidays can be challenging, and this year has been stressful. It can be helpful to speak about your feelings with an objective third-party, such as a therapist.

Work with a therapist or mental health professional to examine any lingering trauma or pain from early childhood experiences associated with the holidays. If the holidays lead to family interactions that feel painful, triggering, or harmful, develop plans to care for yourself, get rest, and hold boundaries.

If you enjoy the Christmas creep, go ahead and enjoy it!

Some people wish the holidays could be a year-round affair. If you fit that bill, don’t let anyone steal your comfort and joy. Go ahead and put that tree up and start playing Mariah Carey on repeat in October — whatever makes you happy.

If you love the holidays, it may be helpful to investigate your expectations and history with the holidays to be able to carve out space for what truly brings joy. For someone who enjoys decoration and crafting, there may be a deep, internally-driven desire to put up the tree as soon as possible!

Hallmark Christmas Movies begin on 10/21!

In Health, and all Creepy Holidays!


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