Stress About Inflation & World Events is Ruining the Holiday Season, Poll Reveals

By John Anderer

The holidays are supposed to be a time for family and celebration, but a troubling new poll suggests this year’s festivities are full of stress and worry for many Americans. According to the survey, put together by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine, it isn’t just the usual holiday hustle bringing so many people down. Instead, tons of Americans can’t help but frown at the current state of both the U.S. and the world in general. From inflation to wars overseas, there’s no shortage of stressors giving the country anxiety.

Among 1,007 survey respondents, 81 percent report both national issues and world affairs are causing them stress. Moreover, 75 percent of respondents are dealing with stress caused by rising prices and holiday spending, and another 53 percent are worried about rising cases of respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. Meanwhile, close to half of Americans (44%) report feeling stressed by simply remembering “last year’s holiday travel meltdown.”

It’s hardly a secret that the holidays can get stressful, but Nicole Hollingshead, PhD, a psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, stresses this time of the year can also be a great opportunity to spend time with loved ones and recharge.

“The holidays kind of bring on this feeling of sadness and struggle when we really want it to be more of a joyous time,” Dr. Hollingshead says in a media release. “I encourage people to reflect on what the holidays meant for you growing up. And most of the time I don’t hear people reflect on, ‘I loved having all the presents, or I remember every single thing that someone gave me.’ Instead, it’s more of the feeling of the holidays.”

Researchers at OSU suggest that if you are feeling overwhelmed by the holidays try to take a step back and focus your attention on factors you can control. More specifically, when someone is feeling overwhelmed, Dr. Hollingshead says it’s time to STOP:

  • Slow down
  • Take a few deep breaths
  • Observe the issue
  • Proceed with a rational plan

Survey respondents were also asked about specific stressors, and Dr. Hollingshead offers the following tips to help cope with these common holiday stressors:

  • Inflation and holiday spending: Rising prices are out of your control. However, you can discuss your budget with your family or partner in advance and make plans to cut back on spending.
  • National/World affairs: The 24/7 news cycle constantly reporting on violent crime, political controversy, and escalating international conflicts is enough to negatively impact anyone’s mental health. While no one person can control world events, you can control your personal exposure to the news. Limit time spent watching TV news and avoid doom scrolling through online news stories and social media.
  • Rise in seasonal respiratory diseases: Mitigating your risk is the best way to protect yourself and your family from respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and the flu. Make sure your recommended vaccinations are up to date, set clear boundaries about being around others who may be feeling sick, and be sure to wash your hands frequently.
  • Unreliable travel industry: When it comes to travel, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. You can’t control traffic jams or flight delays, but you can make sure all your phones and devices are fully charged in case you find yourself stranded or in need of extra entertainment. Always have a plan B in case things go wrong, try to be flexible, and find ways to enjoy your time with loved ones even if travel plans hit a bump or two in the road.

While it’s very normal to feel stressed out this time of year, Dr. Hollingshead encourages everyone to avoid emotional spending fueled by ads and messages that tap into desires for a picture-perfect holiday. That desire for perfection often deters from holiday joy, she posits.

“It gets close to the holidays, and I worry: ‘Did I buy enough for my family? Did I do enough?’ And so we can lose sight of the importance of having too many gifts or making sure everybody has enough to unwrap. Then we lose sight of the big picture, which is that time together,” Hollingshead concludes.

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Source: Study Finds

Image: Pixabay

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