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The Most Concerning Holiday Stress Statistics

November 29, 2018


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it? Because the holiday season often requires you to manage a greater number of responsibilities than usual, it can be stressful. One look at the latest holiday stress statistics will prove it.

A Healthline survey three years ago found 62 percent of people describing their stress level as “very” or “somewhat” elevated during the holiday season. The list of holiday stressors included:

  • Financial demands
  • Negotiating the interpersonal dynamics of family
  • Keeping up with personal health habits (like exercise)

But now, the most recent holiday stress statistics are out. Let’s see what may be stressing you out during this holiday season, and more importantly, what you can do about it.

Holiday Stress, A.K.A. Festive Stress

The US Highbush Blueberry Council put together the latest holiday stress statistics. One of the first notable items to come from the study is that holiday stress is getting a new name. These researchers call it “Festive Stress” and say it develops in three stages:

  • Stage one begins on Dec. 13
  • Stage two begins on Dec. 18; that’s when "festive stress" turns severe
  • Stage three is where it peaks, on Dec. 25

Researchers go so far as to say "festive stress" begins to lessen at 2:05 p.m. on Christmas Day, or when you’re sitting down to your holiday dinner.

What Causes Most Holiday Stress?

Even though "festive stress" sounds like it could be fun, it’s not. If you take a closer look at the holiday stress statistics, you’ll find what researchers say are the most stressful parts of the holidays:

  • Gift shopping (56 percent)
  • Crowds and lines (54 percent)
  • Cleaning (45 percent)
  • Knowing what to get people (38 percent)
  • Cooking (36 percent).

The pressure to have a “perfect Christmas” may also take a toll on you. Some 41 percent of Americans confess to working “too hard” to achieve it. That number jumps to 49 percent for moms.

Holiday Stress Causes Unhealthy Habits

Another alarming holiday stress statistic to come out of the survey is the amount of unhealthy habits you may develop to cope.

The most popular coping mechanism is eating unhealthy snacks. Up to 74 percent of respondents say that’s what gets them through Festive Stress. But 60 percent also said they feel guilty about the way they eat during the holiday season.

Only 25 percent reach for a healthy snack like high-fiber fruits and vegetables.

How Not To Become a Holiday Stress Statistic

Now that you’ve seen the latest holiday stress statistics, let’s find out how you can keep from becoming one. Here’s how:

  • Take time for yourself — According to the study, the average person should take at least 5 periods of “me time” during the holiday season. This is time you take away from the festivities to re-energize and de-stress.

The most popular ways you can unwind include:

  • Listening to music (53 percent)
  • Watching a favorite show or film (45 percent)
  • Taking a nap (43 percent)

There are some other things (not mentioned in the study) that you can do to control holiday stress, including:

  • Going for a long walk
  • Getting a massage
  • Exercising

You can also talk about your worries and concerns with close friends, family, or your doctor. Getting things out in the open can help you navigate your feelings and work toward a solution.

Another concern this time of year is influenza, and if your stress level is high your risk of getting sick increases. One way to fight back is to review our guide: "How To Get Rid of The Flu or Not Get It At All."  Inside you'll find other ways (besides de-stressing) to decrease your risk and some telltale signs you're getting sick.