Stress and the Holidays


Stress and the Holidays
For many people, stress levels spike during holiday season and here are the key reasons.


More than twenty years ago, stress was the cover story in Time magazine. “Stress” was referred to as “The Epidemic of the Eighties,” and it was referred to as the nation’s number one health problem.

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Flash forward to 2007. Results were released on December 12, 2007 from “Stress in America,” the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual survey of stress in the general public in the U.S. The researchers interviewed 1848 adults 18 and over, and the interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.

Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed believe that they cannot avoid stress and in the month prior to the survey, 77% of those surveyed experienced stress-related physical symptoms, including headaches, GI problems, and fatigue. Seventy-three percent admitted to emotional symptoms, including feeling nervous, lack of motivation, irritability, and anger. In addition, nearly half of Americans (43 percent) reported that stress negatively impacted their relationships with spouses or partners. A fourth of Americans believed that in the previous five years, their personal relationships suffered because of stress.

Since that report in 2007, the APA has found remarkably consistent findings each year. Add the holiday season to the mix, and for many, stress spikes even higher.

The domino effect of not controlling your stress levels is clear. Many studies have shown a direct link between stress and fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration.
We now understand that stress also impacts cholesterol levels, platelet activation (causing heart attacks), and shortened life span. Since sleeping difficulties negatively impact the immune system and lifespan and since stress is one of the main causes of insomnia, you can see your health and your life, itself, depend on taking charge of the stressors in your life.


For many people, stress levels spikeduring holiday season and here are the key reasons:

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  • Many are nostalgic for the happy family experiences they had at this time of year and the family is now far away or is fractured by divorce and/or deaths
  • People who live alone often feel much worse around the holidays, which are viewed as times for people to come together to celebrate
  • If you are divorced and during the holidays you must split time with your children with your ex, it can be very frustrating and lonely
  • For many people, the winter months and the grey, gloomy weather increases depression and mood changes


It is important to remember that occasional or low levels of stress may actually be protective of our health! For example, stress makes us more vigilant to potential danger. So, totally eliminating our stress is not only impossible, but is probably not a good idea. It is prolonged and debilitating stress that is the culprit.

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