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David Baxter PhD

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Survey Identifies Top Holiday Stressors, Who?s Most Stressed

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (December 7, 2006) ? A new survey by Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) reveals the most common stressors during the holidays: finances, memories of lost loved ones and too many activities. It also details what groups are most stressed out ? people of color top the list. The results are the second phase of a national attitudinal survey conducted by Mental Health America.

?The holiday season can be a challenging time of year,? said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America. ?Being aware of stressors and taking steps towards managing them is essential to making the holiday season healthy. Neglecting them, on the other hand, can abate a person?s well-being and overall health.?

Top Holiday Stressors
  • Finances are the most common source of holiday stress (40%). Parents are more stressed than all other demographic groups by finances (51%), and females (45%) are more likely than men to feel stressed by finances.
  • 37 percent of Americans feel stressed by memories of loved ones who passed away. Latinos (50%) and African Americans (46%) are most stressed by these memories, compared to Non-Hispanic Whites (34%).
  • Having too much to do causes stress for 34% of people during the holidays. Parents are more stressed than any other demographic group by too much to do (43%).
  • Spending time with family is the least stressful activity, though overall, Hispanics/Latinos (39%) and Native Americans (37%) experience greater stress from spending holidays with family than other demographic groups.
Who is stressed?
  • Parents, people of color and women are most stressed during the holidays.
  • Latinos experience the highest levels of stress during the holidays (39%).
  • 37 percent of Native Americans are stressed during the holidays.
  • Parents have the third highest level of stress during the holidays (35%). They also the most consistent group reporting stress.
  • Non-Hispanic Whites are the least stressed group during the holidays (29%).
  • Women (33%) feel more stressed than men (31%) during the holidays.
  • People who have a college degree (24%) are less stressed than those without a degree and feel the least amount of stress related to finances, loneliness and memories of those who have passed away.
Holidays Intensify Stress
Americans who regularly have high levels of overall stress are most likely to feel stress specific to the holidays. For example, a person who finds family relationships stressful in general, finds these relationships particularly stressful during the holidays (57%). The same is true for those stressed by finances (79%).

"Americans are stressed during the holidays ? we've long known this,"said Shern. "However, on January 2, when a person may expect the stress let up, they instead find themselves feeling down, physically ill or anxious. This is because stress takes a serious toll on a person's overall health ? both ?physical'and ?mental'. We need to help people manage stress better ? they'll feel better, they'll be healthier and they'll probably enjoy the holidays better."

For tips on managing holiday and overall stress go to
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