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Media Release

December 7 2007

Taking the stress out of Christmas spending

 Christmas holidays can be stressful but overspending during the festive season creates stress that can last for months after the holidays are over.

Although it is better to plan ahead and buy gifts at sales during the year, most people don’t and face the stress of last minute shopping and arrangements, according to UniSA’s senior lecturer in psychology and counselling, Dr Nadine Pelling.

“Spending more than you can afford places the focus on gifts rather than on personal relationships,” Dr Pelling said.

“People’s most treasured memories are often about the time they spent with family and friends, and the activities and fun that they had together, rather than gifts that tend to be forgotten, discarded and outgrown,” she said.

Dr Pelling suggests that for some large families, everyone could contribute to one gift for a family member so that each person gives and receives one gift. These could be chosen by picking names out of a hat. Alternatively, put spending limits on gifts to limit the financial burden of the festive season.

“People can make their holidays special by deciding early what they want to do, where they want to be and then plan how much work has to be done, how much money has to be spent and how much stress or pressure they wish to place upon themselves to achieve their holiday plans,” Dr Pelling said.

“We all have a choice in how we handle the holidays. We can take a step back when we start feeling stressed or depressed and decide to be more realistic and supportive of ourselves by eliminating what isn’t important in the festive season.”

De Pelling suggests that people make decisions based on what the holidays are about for them and their family, including such things as religion, time spent together and gifts, and then make the focus of their energies match their priorities.

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