Stress during holidays affects more than visible

A holiday encompasses more than just one day. Rather, the holiday season stretches out to be a whole month, if not more, of cheer, joy, and generosity. Not only including holidays, throughout the season, students get to experience finals, leaving their daily school routine, and, in many cases, seeing family. The stress that reveals itself in the holiday season can often go unnoticed, but behold, each student who feels this way is not alone. 

In a survey of Perry students including grades ranging from ninth to twelfth grade, over 90% of students said that two factors or more contributed to their ongoing stress during the month of December. The top contributing factors included finals, a busy schedule, and what to give for gifts. 

Senior Livia Helterbran explained her reasoning for wanting more time in between the final day of school and the actual holiday she celebrates. “Finals just adds… on top of [everything else in the holiday season] especially [as] a senior,” said Helterbran. 

With finals, holiday shopping, family visits, extra stress comes as an inescapable side effect. Senior Jack Hibbs describes his busy schedule, “Hosting family is quite exhaustive… [and] making sure they’re all happy even though that’s not really possible.” He also includes the stress he feels when seeing his extended family. “We like to fight a lot, [but] I try to avoid that over the holidays just out of principle,” said Hibbs. 

Giving gifts adds a whole new level of stress to the season. Wondering not only what to give as gifts, the question also begs who to give gifts to. It often appears in a spiral that if a gift is given to one friend at school, whose feelings will be hurt by not receiving a gift? In many instances it is not financially practical to buy every close friend a gift. 

Unreasonable expectations to be happy or keep a “perfect” composure, through the influence of family or through societal norms can also be a major factor of stress during the holiday season. Helterbran lists some of her concerns that she faces through familial and societal pressure. “Being able to give proper gifts to people, being able to afford gifts… and… being able to act like an adult while also being treated like a child [by family members],” said Helterbran. 

In these stress-inducing situations, general practitioner company, One Medical, recommends tactics on their website to reduce stress throughout the holiday season. Primarily, they suggest taking time for yourself. Relaxing and self-care is an effective way to reset and organize your thoughts. In addition, they endorse the act of setting boundaries. In other words, it is okay to say no to requests that are not feasible. Drawing a line for boundaries ensures that too much will not be taken on to create even more stress. 

All things considered, stress affects more than just a few students. Especially in the holiday season, stress is normal and validated. If you or a loved one feels alone or in danger, the Teen Lifeline is open 24/7/365 for calls. (603)-248-TEEN(8336)