Added stress equals holiday mess

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When holiday stress is placed on top of already excessively high stress levels individuals feel year-round, it's no wonder the holiday season is one of the most demanding times of the year.  Just type "holiday stress" into the Google search bar and more than 5 million results pop up. Go ahead; try it. The Mayo Clinic Web site has some great tips for coping.

Consider these findings: 

  • According to an Opinion Research study conducted in October 2007, 48% of women experience more stress during the holidays compared to other times of the year (Opinion Research, 10/07).

  • More than 80% of individuals report that they take no additional steps to manage their stress during this time of year. With hectic schedules and added holiday demands, Americans report that they are increasingly likely to turn to unhealthy behaviors such as comfort eating (56%), drinking more alcohol (30%), and sedentary activities like sleeping and watching TV (43%) (American Psychological Association 2006 poll on holiday stress).

  • Almost three-quarters of Americans report that money and work are significant sources of stress in their lives. (American Psychological Association, 2007 Stress in America survey.) The holidays then compound the pressure (APA's 2006 poll on holiday stress).

"With the holidays and New Year's still a few weeks away, we're at the tip of the iceberg in terms of holiday stress. But, we're already seeing first-hand the toll it's taking on employees," says August Stieber, National Sales Director of Bensinger, DuPont & Associates (BDA), a national EAP firm. "BDA has seen approximately a 20% increase in mental health cases in November 2007 when comparing the data to the same time last year."

    Stieber offers these simple tips for balancing holiday cheer with holiday stress:

    1. Know how stress affects you.
    2. Time management during the holiday season is needed for even the most organized individual.
    3. Balance the end of the year work projects with your personal time. If you have more stress at work you may want to think about not adding so many social events to your calendar.
    4. The quality of interactions/social events is better than the quantity of interactions.
    5. Take the time to be in the moments with the people you care about. It usually gives us energy to make it through the season.
    6. If you find yourself stressed out, call your Employee Assistance Program for support.

    Editor's note: For additional information, Stieber can be reached at 1-800-227-8620. Courtesy of Bensinger, DuPont & Associates. Reprinted with permission.