What and how to deal with the stresses of the holiday season

While the holidays are supposed to be a time of year where everyone comes together to unwind ahead of the new year, not everyone is feeling the relaxation that normally comes with the joyous season.

In fact, more than one-third of Americans are grumpy this holiday season as they admitted they’d skip the holiday season this year because of the stress that comes with it, according to a new study.

Mental health and fitness app Total Brain released a survey recently that outlined the stressors behind the holidays, and while the idea of gift-giving, holiday parties, and other yuletide traditions in theory sound relaxing, it’s anything but.

Nearly 40% of Americans said they’d take a pass this year on the holidays due to being too stressed out to deal with it. For nearly half of Americans, it’s the holiday shopping and shoppers that cause the most stress, while 27% of Americans with children said they begin feeling stressed about the holidays by the beginning of November.

“Our research shows that Americans are under considerable stress as we embark on the upcoming holiday season. With that, it’s critical that people take time to support their overall mental well-being,” said Louis Gagnon, CEO of Total Brain, in a press release.

Whether it’s being stressed about an upcoming holiday party to hosting in-laws on Christmas, there are holiday traditions that Americans could simply live without like Black Friday and even Starbucks’ seasonal holiday cups, according to the survey, which polled 1,000 participants for its findings.

Nearly 32% of respondents said they would eliminate Black Friday, America’s biggest shopping day, from the holiday season. About 20% with kids said they’d rid themselves of the Elf on a Shelf tradition and nearly 15% said they’d remove Starbucks holiday cups from the holiday season.

How to manage stress this holiday season

There are ways to navigate the stressors of the holiday season, according to experts.

Joyce Cavanagh, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist, said prioritizing and planning is one of the best ways of avoiding or reducing stressors. She suggested creating a budget for holiday shopping and avoid using credit when possible. Also, make sure to account for additional spending that goes beyond gifts such as travel, food, and entertainment.

“Make note of what you’ve bought, how much you’ve spent and who you’ve bought for,” Cavanagh said. “Jot down items and prices on a note pad or electronic device.”

Another common stressor during the holidays is binge eating and drinking. A recent study showed that the typical overeating and over-drinking during the holiday period are some of the main drivers of obesity, which kills nearly half a million Americans a year.

Combine tons of food with stress, it’s not a healthy combination.

“Try not to eat during periods of high stress,” she said. “Be aware of what and when you eat, but don’t think you have to starve yourself to make room for holiday meals.”

Finally, don’t forget to relax.

“Whether you draw or discharge energy from being around others, it’s always wise to schedule in some relaxation time,” said Angela McCorkle, a Agrilife Extension program specialist. “Take a short nap or a walk or do some reading – whatever you’d normally do to get some private time to recharge your mind and body.”