Why do we stress so much about Christmas? A recent study of people in 11 European countries suggests that for many the Christmas period is associated with a reduction in life satisfaction and emotional well-being.

 

Interestingly, the study found that this association is not the case for Christians with a high degree of religiosity[1].

Overall, it found that the Christmas period is often associated with:

  • Increased stress
  • Financial strain
  • Misuse of alcohol and drugs
  • Increase in self-harm
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Reduction of exercise

 

I can certainly back up these findings anecdotally as I come across many people who, by the end of the first week in November, have already had their first Christmas party, already feel stressed and are already fighting with family members about the Christmas lunch.

On a more sobering note, some statistics suggest that the number of deaths per day increases by 22% in the week approaching Christmas.

 

So What Makes Christmas Merry?

Another study[2] examined what make Christmas a happy occasion for people. The advice is that if your spiritual experiences enhance your personal wellbeing and you can spend time with your family where it is a positive experience, you are more likely to enjoy the Christmas period.

It looks like all the cash we spend on buying things and wrapping them up actually doesn?t contribute to our personal happiness. Present giving during Christmas time has become an important tradition and has a place in maintaining social connections. Unfortunately, so much pressure is placed on ensuring that our affection is communicated accurately via the gifts we buy.

Some fun facts from that study on Christmas time happiness:

  • Men seem to be having a cheerier time during Christmas break
  • Older people seem to be having more fun or report happier times
  • People who spend for Christmas in an environmentally friendly way seem to be more satisfied (thus minimising negative effects during the Christmas break) and feel happier.

So how are you doing?

 

Here are our top tips for you this Christmas:

  • Reduce shopping and overspending
  • Take time off
  • Monitor your alcohol consumption
  • Continue with your fitness routine
  • Spend time with people who make you feel good

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Mutz, M. Applied Research Quality Life (2016) Christmas and Subjective Wellbeing: a research note. 11: 1341. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-015-9441-8

Kasser, T., & Sheldon, K. M. (2002). What makes for a merry Christmas? Journal of Happiness Studies3(4), 313-329.