The 5 biggest causes of stress at Christmas
It’s no surprise that Christmas is a stressful time of year and with the pressure on to find the perfect present, the crowds and queues don’t help either.
What is surprising, however, is that rather than all the logistical mayhem causing us the most stress at Christmas, it is the noise of busy streets and queues that has been recognised as the biggest cause of stress instead. Followed closely by:
- Finding the perfect present for a loved one (25.6%)
- Getting everything ready on time (23.1%)
- Spending long periods of time with in-laws (11.9%)
- Getting all the ingredients for your Christmas dinner (10.9%)
While the sheer noise of Christmas shopping causes a 16% drop in our emotional wellbeing, the good news is that taking regular breaks and listening to calming music while Christmas shopping can increase happiness by as much as 17%.
Patrick Fagan, behavioural science expert at Goldsmiths University, said, “We frequently worry about our stress levels in the chaos of the lead-up to Christmas, however, the research has proven that actually, the noise of festive shopping is having a strong impact on our overall feelings of happiness and short-term wellbeing.
“As a nation, a staggering 88% don’t wear headphones when out shopping; however, wearing such tech appears to increase happiness and feelings of wellbeing and can provide a simple solution during this stressful time.”
Fagan recommends a few simple measures that can be taken to negate the impact of Christmas noise:
TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
From a psychological point of view, the brain is like a muscle with limited energy, and bombarding it with too much information causes stress. Breaks allow our brains to recover from the over-stimulation of Christmas shopping.
THINK ABOUT NOISE
The study found that listening to relaxing music, combined with the noise-cancelling capabilities of headphones such as Sony’s WH-1000XM3, remedied feelings of negativity and increased levels of happiness by as much as 17%. Psychological research has also shown that music affects thoughts and feelings so use this insight to manage your mood during your Christmas shopping.
Make sure you’ve left yourself enough time. We know from peer-reviewed studies that time pressure increases cognitive effort and therefore stress; giving yourself plenty of time gives your brain the room to do what it needs.