Originally, Christmas was seen as the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, who symbolises love and anti-materialism. Christmas is also a time for family reunion, strengthening friendships and enjoying a nice break after a year of hard work. Over the years, many people have increasingly drifted away from the religious aspect of Christmas and normalised material abundance, as seen by the new tradition of luxurious purchases and gift-giving.
Santa Claus and his hard-working elves, that is, the retail market and the factory workers are churning out thousands of products everyday, so that we can be tempted to buy these products and give some of them away to our relatives, friends and colleague. However, have you ever wondered what this means to your well-being, as we spend more money and receive more gifts leading up to Christmas Day?
Let’s take a look at some studies
Researchers Tim Kasser and Kennon M. Sheldon (2002) have conducted a research study with 117 participants, ranging from 18 to 80 in age, who answered questions about their stress, satisfaction, and emotional state during the Christmas season, as well as questions about their experiences, use of money and consumption behaivour. Their findings suggest that people experience more happiness when they focus on spiritual/religious elements and familly, and lower well-being and higher stress when exchanging gifts and spending money predominate. In addition, the researchers also found that engaging in environmentally conscious activities predicted a happier holiday, as did being older and male.
In another study (Syrek et al., 2018) which focused on employees’ affect and the post-holiday effect, titled “All I want for Christamas is recovery”, it is suggested that stress during December is also associated with unfinished tasks at work before taking a vacation, as well as unfinished personal projects before year-end. Finishing our tasks can lead to better recovery experiences post-holiday.
Three tips to manage Christmas stress
1.Spend below your means
Christmas is a time to reflect and cherish yourself and your social support, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is not about buying things on sales or conveying your love through expensive gifts. Spending more money actually equals to more stress. So, you might want to express your love and gratitude in other ways too.
2.Finish your tasks for the year
Regardless of what you’re working on and the type of assignment that you have, it will be beneficial to you to finish it off before going on holiday. If you can’t do that for whatever reason, try to come up with another checkpoint and cross that one off before your big break. That reduces the stress post-holiday and gives you a head start for the new year.
3.Talk to a psychologist
You might have already thought about asking for help if you are dealing with a lot of stress. From a mental health perspective, delaying help is likely going to cause you more stress. Talking to one of our psychologists can help you find proactive solutions to your holiday stress as well as other stressors in life. We are just one phone call away.
Kasser, T., & Sheldon, K. M. (2002). What makes for a merry Christmas?. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3(4), 313-329.
Syrek, C. J., Weigelt, O., Kühnel, J., & de Bloom, J. (2018). All I want for Christmas is recovery–changes in employee affective well-being before and after vacation. Work & Stress, 32(4), 313-333.