Christmas: The Most Stressful Time Of The Year?

THE STRESSFUL SEASON?

What are the biggest causes of stress and anxiety over the holiday season? According to a survey carried out in 2015, the biggest issue over the festive season is money – with as many as 47% of us being worried about finances.  The other big concerns are:

  • Over-eating and lack of exercise (16% of people)
  • Anxiety about being able to choose the right gift (15% of people)
  • Worry about the planning involved with the big day (12% of people).

All this seems to back up a commonly held theory, that far from being the ‘most wonderful time of the year’, Christmas is in fact the most stressful time of the year! But, is that really the case?


THE PARADOX

Whilst Christmas is undoubtably stressful, and for some a very difficult time. The statistics show something surprising.

  • A 2011 study showed that hospital visits for mental health issues actually dropped, every year, over the festive season, rising again sharply in January.
  • Google search analysis also shows that Christmas day itself has the lowest number of searches for ‘sad words’ such as “depression”, “anxiety”, “stress” and “fatigue”.

THE REASON?

There are many things which make Christmas a stressful time: money, gifts, demands, planning and (for some) time with family. However, many researchers suggest that this time we are, almost forced, to spend with friends and family is one of the reasons why we may not be seeking help with mental health issues over the Christmas period.

  • One of the worst things we can do when feeling anxious or low is to hide away from people.  It causes us to focus more and more on the things which are making us feel low, and so ultimately makes us feel worse.
  • One of the best things we can do, no matter how hard it can seem, is to spend time with other people, friends and family.  This can be frustrating, difficult and stressful.  But it can also be fun, and different!  Whichever it is, it keeps us from focusing solely on our own 460            issues and therefore, usually, makes us feel better.

FOR A MERRY CHRISTMAS

Ok – a merry Christmas may feel out of reach. But one of the keys to getting there may be to ensure, where possible, you do spend time with family and friends – no matter how difficult that may seem.

On top of that, remember to set realistic goals, do not try and pressure yourself, and budget your stress as well as your money (see our blog for more help on this).

If all else fails, invest in some St John’s Wort for some extra support.  A traditional herbal remedy, St John’s Wort has been used for many years by people looking for a little support with low mood and anxiety.


Written by Jenny Logan DNMed (Jenny is a nutritional therapist who has worked with clients in health food stores and private clinics for over 20 years).

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