Post-Holiday Stress: Working Toward a New Perspective

Posted by: Carolyn Lamparella
Date: February 13, 2019

The winter doldrums are upon us and the post-holiday credit card statements have arrived! For many, this time of year is especially challenging due to increased debt and financial worry brought on by holiday spending. According to surveys, Americans typically spend between $700 and $885 on gifts between November and January. This debt adds to the cumulative stress associated with holiday entertaining, travel, and the emotional highs and lows of family interaction. And combined with the cold, grey days of February, you may find yourself feeling depressed and overwhelmed.

According to Carolyn Lamparella, EdS, LPC, Program Director for Preferred EAP, it’s important to recognize that you’re not alone. “This time of year is difficult for many people but it can also be a wonderful opportunity for reflection and learning from past mistakes,” she says. “This is the best time of year to commit to developing better emotional and financial habits.” Instead of isolating oneself and feeling regret about holiday spending, she advises to seek support and guidance regarding your finances so you’re able to implement positive changes.

How to make it through credit card debt

Commit to getting a grip on your debt. Paying down your credit card debt may not give you the same thrill as gift giving, but taking action will lighten the weight of post-holiday stress. Consumer Reports offers these tips:

  • Find a lower interest rate. Consider transferring your account balance to a zero-interest card, making sure you calculate what you’ll save in interest.
  • Pay off your big debts first. Paying off your small debts may give you immediate satisfaction, but paying off largest debts first will save more money on interest in the long run.
  • Look for other ways to save. Try to cut out extras like going out to dinner. When you do, immediately pay a bill so you can reduce your debts faster.

Re-evaluate your approach to finances

Shopping and spending money may be your way of coping with pain or stress. If so, you may need to seek external support to overcome this automatic behavior. Here are some potential strategies to consider:

  • Track your spending. Research shows that keeping a daily list of what you spend can help you spend more wisely.
  • Ask for help. If you have trouble sticking to a budget, reach out to your bank, utilities, and credit card companies and set up a payment plan.
  • Curb temptation. Choose other cost free activities instead of shopping or spending time at the mall. Leave your credit cards at home when you go out.
  • Recognize your behavior. When money is tight, do you engage in behaviors like drinking or over- spending, which strains your personal relationships? In this case, consider seeking help from a counselor.

Remember what’s really important

In the iconic Peanuts holiday cartoon, Charlie Brown complains to Lucy about having the blues because of the commercialism of the season. If you find that the holiday season has given you the blues, take this time to reflect on your core values and what is most important to you about the holidays. Find an index card and write down your thoughts and goals for the next season. Hang the card on your refrigerator as a reminder and incorporate your new insights into future holiday plans. Make February a time for growth and new beginnings instead of worry and regret. Lamparella offers this inspiration from Renaissance Italian author Pietro Aretino: “Let us love winter, for it is the spring of new genius.”

Explore free workshops through Preferred EAP, or call 610-433-8550 to learn about the advantages of EAP for employers and employees.