We bring holiday stress upon ourselves, survey finds

While the holidays are a stressful time, a survey finds we engage in behaviors that make it worse.

Photo: FatCamera

Americans are pushed to the brink with holiday stress, overwhelmed by financial concerns, family events, gift shopping, and just trying to balance it all like so many spinning plates.

Some of the pain is self-inflicted: 1 in 4 say they’ve taken on more than they can realistically get done, shows a new survey by Vitalsmarts, a leadership training company.

Ready to drop

The top 5 holiday causes of stress were found to be:

  • 56%: Keeping up … with, well, everyone, from activities to expectations
  • 50%: Money, or lack thereof
  • 46%: Shopping.
  • 33%: Family events
  • 26%: Maintaining physical health

“Most of us struggle to keep up with the schedules and pressures of non-holiday life,” says Justin Hale, co-creator of Getting Things Done Training by VitalSmarts. “When you pile on additional commitments and double your to-do list, your stress levels grow exponentially.

Can’t say no

As stressed as we say we are, it might not hurt if some of us slowed down a little. A fair number of respondents suffered from all-or-nothing attitudes when it came to holiday activities, which only contributed to the stress.

  • 27% percent never declined an invitation for a party or event
  • 10% say they had no rules for their health or diet during the holidays, with 44% figuring that they’d start dieting or eating healthy in January.
  • 10% said they drink to excess and always needed a designated driver after a holiday party.
  • 29% can’t stick to a budget during the holidays and rely on a credit card.

“Nearly 60 percent of people don’t have clear lists of their commitments and it’s hard to renegotiate commitments you don’t remember making or don’t keep track of,” Hale said.

It looks like there are a few areas we can help ourselves cut back to make the season happier – instead of stuffing our gullets with as much food, alcohol, social events, and credit card debt as humanly possible. Slow holidays movement, anyone?

Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.