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Anxious about how much you’re spending this Christmas? These Aberdeen counsellors may have the answers

With two-thirds of us struggling to afford Christmas every year, two north-east experts have shared their tips to avoid feeling the weight of your wallet.

Research from polling firm YouGov found the average Brit spends £1,116 over the festive period – including almost £400 on presents.

For many, fears of stretched finances and getting into debt can cause significant stress and anxieties – not just over Christmas, but all year round.

As part of our Mental Health Toolkit, two Aberdeen counsellors have shared their tips for those concerned about making ends meet.

‘Many feel they have to resort to credit cards’

Many people feel obligated to shower their loved ones in piles of presents and lay on a lavish spread for guests.

But in the process, some also feel they have to resort to the likes of credit cards to provide these luxuries.

And when the Covid pandemic and all the stresses it has brought are factored in, it can often feel overwhelming.

“Every parent wants to feel that they are providing that joy at Christmas for their child,” Patricia said.

Patricia McIntosh

“With loss of loved ones, stress of home-schooling, financial pressure of finding themselves furloughed or redundant, there have been a multitude of pressures piled on top of what people have already been dealing with.”

‘Children don’t need expensive toys’

However, Patricia says this isn’t really in the spirit of Christmas – or often what people are really looking for.

She added: “It’s just the company that people will be craving after the previous winter of lockdown.

“And children often don’t need the expensive toys we think they want.

“My father’s favourite Christmas story, is reminding me of the year he spent hours searching for the perfect gift – only for Christmas Day to arrive and me to ignore it and play with the cardboard box.”

Mother trying to work from home during lockdown

While the relief of resorting to a credit card or loan could give you a quick boost, the longer term pressures of paying it back could take a greater toll.

“Debt is often associated with embarrassment and shame but getting it out in the open is the first step to taking control, Patricia said.

“Spending time with others can improve mood and can be done at zero cost.”

What’s the solution?

Aberdeen counsellor Nara Morrison has warned letting financial anxieties linger can lead to increased stress, potentially leading people to use alcohol or drugs as coping methods, or for their relationships to break down.

Both experts have shared their tips for tackling financial anxiety this Christmas.

  • Be kind to yourself – you don’t have to do everything or buy everything.
  • Reduce the time you spend on social media – comparing yourself to unrealistic lifestyles will only make you feel worse.
  • Set a budget for gifts and make sure you stick to it.
  • Stay active  to help with the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety.
  • Use cash – psychologically, when we see what we spend, we become more careful with our spending.
  • Get creative with hand-made gifts. They’ll never decrease in value, and people will appreciate that you’ve invested your own time, rather than money.

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