What are the effects of holiday stress? It's not uncommon for people to experience significant levels of stress and anxiety during the holiday season.
Sources of Holiday Related Stress
There are a variety of reasons that many people experience an increase in stress during the holiday season.
The holidays can put a strain on even the most balanced budget. No matter how carefully you plan for the holiday season, the expense of purchasing gifts for family members, friends, colleagues, teachers, and others can be a significant stressor. Other costs such as food, travel, and the seasonal increase in utility bills can add to the stress.
Dealing with Crowds
In addition to stress caused by extra holiday spending, the very act of going shopping during the busiest season of the year can trigger seasonal stress. During the holidays, the stores are crowded, parking at malls and shopping centers is packed, and traffic is fierce. The stress of struggling to get to where you need to go to purchase items for those on your shopping list can really take a toll.
Increased Social Obligations
During the holiday season, there seem to be more demands on your time than at any other time of the year. Between school plays, office parties, cocktail parties, club or association gatherings, open house events, and additional social functions, it can be hard to find a free afternoon or evening to relax and unwind.
Preparing for Company
For many people, the holidays mean preparing for out of town guests. Preparing your house for visiting family members can be very stressful, as can dealing with having houseguests. Whether your relatives will be staying with you for a few days or for an extended period of time, having people in your home overnight - even people you love dearly - can be a powerful stressor.
If you don't have relatives joining you for the holidays, you may be the one hitting the road. Traveling during the holiday seasons can be very stressful for a variety of reasons. Even during the best of conditions traveling can lead to stress. The highways and airlines are very crowded during the holiday season, so the usual anxiety associated with travel can be exponentially increased during this time of year.
Understanding What are the Effects of Holiday Stress
No matter what time of year you become stressed out, the physical and emotional effects of stress are the same. As far as your body and mind are concerned, holiday stress is no different than stress associated with change at work, juggling multiple tasks, moving, personal problems, or any other potential stressor.
Stress can lead to many negative consequences, including:
- Back pain
- Elevated blood pressure
- Health problems
- Joint and muscle pain
- Stomach ulcer
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight gain
These are just a few of the many effects of stress on the body, and everyone's symptoms may vary.
Managing the Effects of Seasonal Stress
As the hectic holiday season approaches, it's essential to take steps to minimize the stress you experience. Watch for the signs of holiday stress so you can be proactive in taking steps to manage your anxiety. Remind yourself that you are in control of your schedule. Take stock of what is most important to you, and reserve time for yourself and the people who mean the most to you.
Keep in mind that you don't have to attend every single function that you receive an invitation for. You can set limits on houseguests and travel, within reason. You can eliminate a lot of shopping related stress by setting and sticking to a budget and relying on online shopping so you don't have to fight traffic and crowded stores.
When you find yourself wondering what are the effects of holiday stress, don't overlook just how serious the problems that develop as a result of it can be. When you try to juggle too many seasonal responsibilities without taking time to relax and unwind, you can be laying the groundwork for serious problems that can last long into the future.