MONDAY, Nov. 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The song says ’tis the season to be merry, but many Americans find it’s more the season for stress and worry, a new survey reports.
The pressure of inflation and global business this year adds to other holiday stressors to create a toxic cocktail for mental health, according to findings from Wexner Medical Center and the Ohio State University College of Medicine .
The results of the survey show that:
81% of Americans are stressed about domestic issues and world affairs
75% of respondents are stressed by rising prices and holiday spending
53% are stressed by increasing cases of flu, COVID and other respiratory illnesses
44% of respondents are stressed by memories of last year’s holiday travel crisis
These findings run counter to the idea that the holidays are supposed to be a time when families and friends can connect, recharge and approach the new year with a fresh perspective, the researcher said. Nicole Hollingsheadpsychologist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Wexner Medical Center.
“The holidays kind of bring on this feeling of sadness and struggle when we really want it to be a more joyful time,” Hollingshead said in a university news release. “I encourage people to think about what the holidays meant to you growing up. And most of the time I don’t hear people say, “I loved getting all the gifts, or I remember everything someone gave me.” Instead, it’s more of a holiday feeling.
People can weather holiday stress by stepping back and taking charge of what they can control, rather than focusing on things they can’t control, Hollingshead said.
For example, people can:
Plan your vacation budget and take steps to reduce spending in response to anxiety over high prices.
Limit the time spent watching TV news and browsing online news and social media, to manage stress related to domestic and global affairs.
Catch up on recommended vaccinations and protect yourself from infections by wearing a mask when you go out, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing to manage stress during cold and flu season.
Keep an eye out for flight delays or traffic jams and always have a plan B in case something goes wrong, to control the stress of unreliable travel plans.
Hollingshead also encourages people to avoid emotional spending fueled by advertising that exploits a nostalgic desire for the perfect vacation, on par with Clark Griswold’s “fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.”
“The holidays are coming and I’m worrying: ‘Have I bought enough for my family?’ Have I done enough? So we can lose sight of the importance of having too many gifts or making sure everyone has enough to unwrap,” Hollingshead said. “Then we lose sight of the bigger picture, which is our time together.”
The survey was conducted between October 20 and 23 with a sample of 1,007 respondents. The margin of error for total respondents is +/-3.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
The Mayo Clinic has more on holiday stress.
SOURCE: Ohio State University, press release, November 20, 2023