Nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays at great risk to the health of their minds and bodies, according to a national survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA). Compared to previous surveys on stress, APA found that women are actually doing less to address the increased stress of the holiday season. Despite repeated warnings about the effects of stress on both psychological and physical health, women are relying more on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress during the holidays and the rest of the year.
Juggling work and added family responsibilities, such as planning for holiday gatherings, shopping for gifts and cooking, leave most women feeling like they can't take time to relax during the crunch to get everything done for the holidays. Survey findings show that added holiday stress, on top of already disproportionately high stress levels in women year-round, makes it hard for women to relax. This increases the likelihood that they will turn to unhealthy behaviors like using food to deal with stress (41 percent) or drinking alcohol (28 percent).