ST. LOUIS – According to the Financial Technology Company Survey, St. Louis ranks ninth in the top 10 most stressed cities in America. 

The study, which came out ahead of National Stress Awareness Day on Wednesday, says that one in four Americans is financially underserved, and personal finance is one of the top issues causing stress.

The holiday season also causes financial issues to arise. Apart from family events, gift-giving is a large factor. 

Experts say it’s important to set a budget. Before shopping for gifts, decide what the limit is and what is affordable. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. 

There are other alternatives:

Donate to a charity in someone’s name.Give homemade gifts.Start a family gift exchange.

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One way to handle stress during the holiday season is to acknowledge your feelings, reach out, and be realistic. Communication is a key way to lower stress. Stress levels can get out of hand if not communicated properly. Learning to say “no,”, especially during the holiday season, is a life skill. 

Saying “yes” to a plan that should have been a “no” can cause resentful and overwhelmed feelings. Saying no doesn’t make anyone a bad person, and friends and colleagues will understand. 

Understand that family members do not have to take part in every family event or plan. 

Don’t make the holidays something that is dreaded. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays.