Often, this time of year brings with it a certain amount of financial stress. Many of us focus on money difficulties; it’s easy to do when you tend to spend quite a lot on gifts, entertaining and travel during the holidays. And, of course, once your credit card statements arrive in January, things are even more stressful.

Reducing financial stress in your life won’t happen overnight. However, there are some things you can do to take steps to make money less stressful in the future:

Pinpoint the Problem

Your first move is to pinpoint the problem. Why are you spending so much money? What are your money motivations? In many cases, you can cut back without too much trouble, simply by re-evaluating your priorities and focusing on what’s most important in your life. Figure out why you are stressed out about finances. Do you have too much credit card debt? Do you fail to track your spending? Do you lack a plan for your money? Are the bills just piling up? Are you paying for things that don’t match your spending values?

Putting a name to the problem, and recognizing the issues involved, is the first step to solving your money difficulties and reducing your finances-related stress.

Make a Plan

One of the best things you can do for your financial peace of mind is to make a plan. It’s surprising how much better you are likely to feel about the situation once you make a decision regarding the best way to tackle your issues. A great load can be lifted from your mind as you create an action plan for solving your problems.

However, in order for your plan to provide lasting financial stress relief, you need to make it realistic. Look for ways to cut back, and then look at a payment schedule that can help you reach your goals. List the most important items in your life, and make sure those are funded. Drop off the less important spending.

Once you have a plan, create benchmarks and come up with small, inexpensive rewards to mark your progress. This will keep you motivated, as well as show you how far you have come. It’s easier to feel positive, and beat stress, when you can see that you are making progress.

Recognize What You Already Have

Sometimes it can help to “count your blessings.” Recognize what you already have in your life: loving family, a place to live, the knowledge you possess. Focus on the things that make life worth living, and enjoy quality time with loved ones. You don’t need to spend money to enjoy others’ company, and it will help you take your mind off your financial stressors for a time.

Remember Your Health

Everyone deals with stress much better when they are taking care of themselves. Exercise a little every day. Try to eat healthy. Take time to do something you enjoy, such as read, watch a good movie, play a game, or work on a hobby. Your mind will be clearer, and your ability to cope with stress will be higher, when your body and mind are taken care of. A little stress relief can go a long way toward reducing money-related stress as well.