Deal­ing with Christ­mas stress

The Invercargill Eye - - A LENDING HAND -

You’re not alone if you’re not ex­actly feel­ing in the hol­i­day spirit this year. Too many crowds, too much Christ­mas mu­sic, too many fam­ily obli­ga­tions.

It can all be a bit too much. The hol­i­days can get us down, but we can also fight back. So how ex­actly do you fight back? Kick the Stress

You can kick the hol­i­day stress by do­ing as much plan­ning as pos­si­ble. Plan your time with ex­tended fam­ily, plan who’s cook­ing what on the day, and where you need to be. The more you sched­ule things (and stick to that sched­ule), the more likely you won’t be stressed out by hav­ing to make a dozen last-minute de­ci­sions.

Re­mem­ber That Mod­er­a­tion is Best

It’s easy to go overboard with ev­ery­thing dur­ing the hol­i­days. We tell our­selves, ‘‘Hey, I de­serve this’’ or ‘‘I can pay for this af­ter Christ­mas.’’ Some­times we feel like it’ll help the stress, it may feel that way at the time, but come New Year, it will make things so much more dif­fi­cult, par­tic­u­larly if your fi­nances are stretched any­way. It is dif­fi­cult to stick to a bud­get, par­tic­u­larly through­out the fes­tive sea­son, but mak­ing sure you don’t over­spend will help you keep to rea­son­able lim­its, while al­low­ing your­self to en­joy the hol­i­day sea­son.

Don’t Try to Change Any­thing Big

Want to im­prove your re­la­tion­ship with a fam­ily mem­ber? Take baby steps to work on more clearly com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them with­out snark, sar­casm, or bring­ing up past em­bar­rass­ments or hurts.

Ac­tions speak louder than words, so no need to tell oth­ers you’re work­ing on im­prov­ing these things — just do it.

Pre­pare for the Tense or Awk­ward Sit­u­a­tions A good of­fense is the best de­fense, the say­ing goes. So if you pre­pare ahead of time for such sit­u­a­tions by set­ting re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions and work to min­imise con­flict with oth­ers.

It may also help to give your­self some alone-time af­ter in­ter­act­ing with a par­tic­u­larly un­help­ful fam­ily mem­ber. Ex­cuse your­self and go for a nice brisk walk out­side to help clear your head and re-es­tab­lish your calm. ‘‘Da, Da, Da, Da, Here comes the bride’’.

Well, that’s fol­lowed by: ‘‘Da, Da, Da, Da, Here comes the bill’’.

I lis­tened to Neil Roberts, founder of peer-to-peer lender Har­money talk­ing about ‘‘loan sto­ries’’ re­cently.

My heart sank when he talked about a man who bor­rowed be­cause all three of his daugh­ters were get­ting mar­ried in the same year. Daugh­ters, that is not on!

Your fa­ther gave you life. He raised you. He gave you love and en­cour­age­ment, and what? You left him in debt?

Dad was about to be an empty nester. He should be sav­ing for his re­tire­ment, not re­pay­ing wed­ding debt.

I shud­der at how much he may have bor­rowed. There’s one es­ti­mate be­ing bandied about that the ‘‘av­er­age’’ New Zealand wed­ding costs $35,000.

I do not be­lieve that is pos­si­ble. How can young peo­ple faced with high house prices, stu­dent debt and sav­ing for their re­tire­ment blow $35,000 on a sin­gle day?

Dads of New Zealand, you hold a very sa­cred and spe­cial place in your daugh­ters’ lives.

You are a men­tor, a role-model, a trusted ad­viser, a bul­wark against a hard, hard world.

For all these rea­sons, you shouldn’t be fund­ing their wed­dings un­less you are loaded, and are work­ing hard on build­ing up their sense of en­ti­tle­ment.

Wed­dings are fine, but they are not as good as a) house de­posits, b) stu­dent loan re­pay­ments, and c) sav­ings.

This be­ing true, the cost of wed­dings should be kept low.

The best wed­dings I have been to didn’t cost much (in­clud­ing my own all those years’ ago).

The worst ones (some­times with the short­est-lived mar­riages) were the most ex­pen­sive.

I be­lieve whole­heart­edly in not im­pos­ing a wed­ding list on your poor re­la­tions, bor­row­ing the venue, and get­ting wed in pretty civvies not spe­cially made fin­ery.

All those years’ ago, the Mrs and I man­aged to bor­row a 15th cen­tury chapel in Cam­bridge, where we lived. We rented a cot­tage by the river in Grantch­ester be­cause all our friends were poor and couldn’t af­ford de­cent ho­tels. There was no wed­ding list. We self-catered.

It was poverty eco­nom­ics at work, and op­por­tunism. We didn’t have any money, and it would never have oc­curred to us to bor­row.

The whole day cost next to noth­ing. It was lovely.

New Zealand is uniquely en­dowed for lovely penny-pinch­ing wed­dings. You can wed any­where, and we have beaches, parks, river­sides and gar­dens in abun­dance.

You can pay a wed­ding cel­e­brant (cost $150-$800), or have a pri­vate reg­istry of­fice wed­ding for $173.70, and have a beach ‘‘wed­ding’’ later with a friend or other loved on of­fi­ci­at­ing.

One of the great mod­ern free­doms is be­ing able to break with costly tra­di­tion and do things your way.

Beach, sun, love, and very lit­tle ex­pense. Wed­dings don’t have to cost the earth.

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