Holidays Are Not Always ‘The Most Wonderful Time’

Top four holiday stressors and how manage them.

Michele DeMarco, PhD

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Depositphotos

Originally published in Psychology Today.

Singer Andy Williams memorialized the winter holidays as “the most wonderful time of the year” in his similarly titled song from the 1960s — with “parties for hosting” and “marshmallows for toasting” and “caroling out in the snow.” But for many people, the tune’s most challenging line is the one that compels you to “be of good cheer” — because, for them, it’s a next-to-impossible task.

A survey by the American Psychological Association (APA; 2023) found that 89% of U.S. adults said they felt stressed at the holidays and 41% said their stress increased during this time compared with other points in the year. The National Alliance on Mental Health (2023) reported that 64% of people living with a mental illness felt that their conditions worsened around the holidays. For women and those with lower income, the holidays can be particularly stressful (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, 2006).

89% of U.S. adults said they felt stressed at the holidays. And 64% of people living with a mental illness felt that their conditions worsened around the holidays.

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Michele DeMarco, PhD

Award-winning writer, therapist, clinical ethicist, and researcher specializing in moral injury. I talk about the stuff many won’t. micheledemarco.com