It turns out Santa isn’t the only word that starts with an S that we see more of around Christmas. Stress levels increase dramatically as well. ABC News reports that the increase in stress levels that we see over the holiday season can lead to serious health complications.
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a neuroendocrinologist and professor at the University of California, the stress hormone cortisol works overtime during the holiday season. This in turn increases sugar production in the body and an increases blood pressure. This can lead to many health issues. Stress also weakens the immune system and combined with the cold this can be a dangerous situation. Colds, the flu, and other diseases are very prevalent during the holiday season.
So if people are so stressed and sick why are they so happy around the holidays? According to the Holiday Stress survey published by the American Psychological Association, nearly 80% of people reported that they were positive and happy during the holidays. Lustig credits this to the simple pleasures during the holidays that mask the underlying stress. These include impulse purchases for oneself and others, indulging in sweet treats, and other activities that bring short-lived happiness but not true contentment or joy. What they do do, however, is cause long run negative effects such as worse health or financial issues… both of which lead to stress. This is likely why in the same survey 70% of Americans reported feeling fatigued during the holiday season.
So is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? Well, it depends. It’s a great time to spend with family and indulge in impulse purchases and christmas treats but it does have an overall negative impact on the body. As the holiday season approaches, remember that Christmas isn’t about money, food, or gifts but rather about religion and spending time with family. This should be an effective way to fight off the negative effects of the holiday season.