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The holidays stress people out. Here’s how to overcome the season.

frustrated young business man
Posted at 8:20 AM, Dec 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-09 15:14:42-05

The holidays can be a stressful time, especially for those dealing with mental illnesses.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people with mental illness say the holidays worsen their conditions. While 40% say the season makes their conditions “somewhat worse,” nearly a quarter of those with mental illnesses say the holidays make their conditions “a lot” worse.

Health care marketplace Sesame surveyed the general population. The survey found that nearly half of Americans, 49%, say they feel increased anxiety during the holidays. Nearly 2 in 5 people say the holidays can cause added depression, while 64% report the season brings financial stress.

Going into the holidays this year, inflation is listed as the No. 1 stressor, followed by shopping for gifts and family dynamics. About a quarter of Americans say eating helps them cope with their stress, while 18% say they use exercise to cope. Drinking alcohol and having sex are other top ways people say they reduce stress.

Sesame also reported that 22% say that talking with someone helps reduce holiday stress.

“The holidays can be very stressful because it can bring up increased loneliness, grief and depression. And so for people in that circumstance, they can often assume everybody else is having a happy, warm, loving, stress-free holiday, and it can make whatever they were experiencing prior to the holidays that much more challenging,” said Dawn Potter, a psychologist for Cleveland Clinic.

The Mayo Clinic offers 10 tips for reducing holiday stress:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings
  2. Reach out
  3. Be realistic
  4. Set aside differences
  5. Stick to a budget
  6. Plan ahead
  7. Learn to say no
  8. Don't abandon healthy habits
  9. Take a breather
  10. Seek professional help if you need it

Potter also recommends avoiding social media this time of year. She also suggests how to reduce the financial stress of the season.

“If you are creative and are able to do some type of homemade gift that can help save some money, that can be really helpful,” said Potter. “You can also give people coupons for activities you will do with them, or chores you will take off their plate or plans that will be made in the future.”