Festive Fatigue: Is December the most stressful time of the year?

In amongst all of the tinsel, lights, event ads, and toy shop queues that come together to form the festive season, we can lose sight of the fact that Christmas is a difficult time for many, many people.

With a focus on socialising, togetherness, and, let’s be honest, spending, it’s no surprise that it can be a trying and lonely time. A huge 51% of women and 35% of men find the season stressful, while 53% of men feel the sting of loneliness, even when their social interaction increases.

In fact, 25% of people report that Christmas has caused issues with their mental health, while 64% of those with pre-existing mental illnesses see a worsening in their condition throughout the festive period.

Why are so many people struggling? The most common reasons given are loneliness exacerbated by the expectation of company and togetherness at Christmas (83%), increased stress focused on such a short space of time (81%), and getting into debt through seasonal spending on presents, parties, and food (41%). In addition, the pressure of extra work during the holiday season can make people feel like they are just employees instead of individuals. Providing opportunities for informal interaction can help to restore workplace wellbeing.

It’s not just a feeling of unease or upset during December and the surrounding months either, as nearly 60% of people have experienced festive panic attacks, while 76% experience trouble sleeping. Overwhelm, anxiety, and tiredness are also frequently seen signs of festive fatigue.

It’s quite sobering for a season of goodwill to be the cause of such struggle. A survey by the mental health charity, Mind, recently revealed that 52% of respondents had considered self-harm at Christmas, and 45% had even considered suicide.

It goes without saying that a decline in mental health and an increase in stress can strike at any time of year, but it’s undeniable that the pressures of Christmas can be a real trigger for a lot of people.

With more demands on our time, wallets, social battery, as well as an expectation of fun and love that not everyone will feel, it’s no surprise that mental health can take a nosedive in December and the surrounding months.

At ART, we understand that here’s no easy answer, unfortunately, except knowing our triggers, being careful not to put ourselves into situations that hit those buttons, and seeking out consistent wellbeing strategies that work for us. Whether it’s by reaching out to a friend, or providing extra support for employees at Christmas, it’s only in the spirit of the season that we look out for each other when we need it most.

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