Why Christmas Stress Is Actually a Serious Problem!

The ‘Stressful Life Events Rating Scale’ by Holmes and Rahe is a well-known list of stressful events that many people are forced to deal with at some point in their lives. This list is comprised of a range of events including divorce, loss of job, death in the family, illness and more. While many of these items might appear to make a lot of sense though, there are also some other items on the list that are a little more surprising perhaps. One example? Christmas.

ChristmasAnd it’s not just Holmes and Rahe either. According to many psychologists, Christmas is actually one of the most stressful things that many of us go through on a regular basis and there are a great number of reasons for this.

So if Christmas is coming up and you’re finding yourself something of a nervous wreck… don’t feel bad! Actually it’s completely normal and a lot of other people probably feel the exact same way.

Believe it or not, Santa Clause is probably a bundle of stress. And with the extra fat he’s carrying he’s at high risk of cardiovascular disease…

In this article we will look at what it is that makes Christmas stress so common and how you can reduce that stress, at least slightly.


For starters, Christmas is expensive. Not only do you have to pay for presents for everyone but you will also need to buy cards and stamps, you’ll need to pay to travel to friends and if you’re hosting you’ll have to get the food in. For those who run their own business or are self-employed this all comes just nicely before the end of the tax year when you’ll be paying taxes too…

When life is on top of you and you’re struggling to make ends meet as it is, Christmas can actually be very challenging. One answer is to make the decision to buy less extravagant gifts for people but then you can end up feeling mean – especially if you have young children who won’t likely understand why they can’t have that Xbox One they wanted…

The best solution is to factor Christmas into your budget right from the start. At the same time, remember that you can always ask for money or vouchers on your list and thus gain some of the money back afterwards. Finally, explain to those who are old enough that you don’t have much cash and that you’ll have to spend a little less. If you agree a ‘budget’ up front this can be a good way to ensure you both save money and you might find that they appreciate the reduction in Christmas stress too!

Gift Giving

Money aside, giving gifts can still be a stressful process. This requires a lot of work in hunting down presents for people and it also means you need to come up with ideas for what each family and friend is likely to want. When you can’t think of any good ideas this can be surprisingly upsetting!

Again, the best tip here is to start early and that means buying presents in October and November rather than December. In fact, if you see something someone will really like in January, you can buy it for them then!

Many people will find they lack the foresight to do this because they would rather save the money for as long as possible. If you find yourself in that boat, then a similar strategy that you can enjoy for free is simply to keep a list of ideas for gifts for each person. Whenever someone mentions something they’d like, or whether you have a good idea, write that down on your list. Now, when Christmas comes around, you’ll simply be able to consult a list of great ideas and buy those items at a convenient time.

Make sure you’re taking full advantage of online shopping too. This is a great way to combat Christmas stress because it means you won’t need to trail around busy shops!


Christmas stress is also often about the organization aspect of having everything cooked on time, wrapping presents, sending cards etc. It might not sound like much but when you already have a lot else going on in your life, it can seem a bit like the final straw.

Again there are ways to minimize these sources of stress though. Sending digital cards is easier and cheaper than sending physical cards for instance and you could always opt to eat out for Christmas if you don’t want the stress of dealing with a turkey.

What’s more, you can always ask other people to help you too. Your partner should be able to help with cards, while asking parents to bring desert can reduce your workload for dinner.

Family Feuds

Speaking of parents… another big source of Christmas stress is the prospect of family feuds and people arguing. The obvious answer to this might be not to invite people who are likely to have arguments but then you have the risk of offending the people you don’t invite.

A few things can be done again to minimize the risk of arguments though. Having your Christmas dinner in a restaurant can help because people tend to be civil when they’re in public places. Likewise, keeping alcohol to a minimum is often a good idea, as is putting on a film or playing a game.

The Ultimate Solution

If none of these solutions have quite helped your particular sources of Christmas stress (and there are many more reasons this can be an issue to be sure) then you might find that the best solution is to simply avoid a traditional Christmas altogether. No, that doesn’t mean becoming Jewish – it means going on holiday at Christmas. This is something that more and more people are choosing to do and while you will still have to buy presents for people, you’ll have a great excuse not to host or attend any Christmas parties and it’s certainly easier to take your mind off Christmas stress when you’re on a sunny beach somewhere…

Keith Hillman

Keith Hillman is a full time writer specializing in psychology as well as the broader health niche. He has a BSc degree in psychology from Surrey University, where he particularly focused on neuroscience and biological psychology. Since then, he has written countless articles on a range of topics within psychology for numerous of magazines and websites. He continues to be an avid reader of the latest studies and books on the subject, as well as self-development literature.