It’s no secret that the holidays can be an incredibly stressful time. But where exactly is the holiday stress coming from — and how are people coping?
A new survey by VitalSmarts, a leadership training company, asked 1,166 people aged 25 to 60 — 76 percent were female — about their stress levels around the holidays and where that stress comes from. It turns out that not only are people stressed, but many just don’t make time for themselves. Seventy percent of respondents said that rather than taking “me time”, they were so dedicated to making the season feel special and happy that they just keep throwing themselves into it. It’s no wonder there’s so much stress flying around.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do everything that’s expected of you, especially during this time of year. “Learn to say no!,” Laura Bilotta, couples counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. “Sometimes you need to be selfish with your personal time as you can’t always be everywhere that is requested of you. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling bitter and overwhelmed.”
One of the first steps towards tackling stress is understanding where it’s coming from, so here are the top five sources of holiday stress, according to the new survey.
1. Just Keeping Up
This time of year can feel like a lesson in juggling, and 56 percent of people said that they were stressed from just trying to keep up with everything that’s going on. If this is the case for you, try being more realistic about your schedule, planning things out and, of course, saying no when you have to.
The holidays can be a total money drain, and 50 percent of respondents said that they were stressed by their finances over the holiday season. Try to remember of the spirit of the holidays and not get pressured into buying more than you need to by the endless commercials and advertising. You can always opt for a more heartfelt (and cheaper) gift instead.
Forty-six percent of people were stressed out by the amount of shopping to do during the holidays. Try to avoid busy shopping days and times if you find the crowds stressful.
4. Family Events
Only 33 percent of people said they were stressed out by their family events which is, frankly, a little surprising. Whether it’s the fact that your family is difficult or just the sheer number of family events that can take place, it’s totally OK to find it stressful — so bow out where you have to or, at the very least, avoid racist Aunt Ida.
5. Physical Health
All of this stress can take a toll on your health, mentally and physically. So it’s probably no surprise that 26 percent of respondents get stressed out about their health, another sign that it’s important to take some time for yourself during your holiday season.
The holidays can definitely be very stressful — but the way they’re stressful will be different for everyone. No matter where your stress comes from, make sure you’re taking the time to take care of yourself, because this season should be full of warmth and joy, not debt and exhaustion.