The Stress of the Holidays

While the holidays can be a very fun time of year, many teens also feel stressed trying to get the perfect gift for their family members and making it to all of their families holiday events.

Delainey Curit ’20 left and Brooke Meserve ’20 middle pose with writer Deanna Curit right near a Christmas tree at a holiday party.

Delainey Curit ‘20 said, “The most stressful part of the holidays is making sure you have enough gifts for everyone and not leaving anyone out and also rushing to make sure you are ready for parties and holiday gatherings.”

According to cope2thrive.com the holidays can be a difficult and stressful time of year for teens not especially. “Holidays can be a difficult time of year for many teens and their families. Stress that’s easily managed at other times of the year can become overwhelming. End-of-semester exams and pressure to get good grades, coupled with gift-buying dilemmas and stressful family get-togethers increase anxiety levels, making it difficult to cope.”

50 people from Thornton Academy were asked in a poll whether they think the holidays were stressful or not. 30 said yes, 20 said no. Most of the people said the holidays were stressful because they were always stressing about getting the perfect gift for everyone and not spending too much money.

Nbc news did a survey with similar questions as the one asked in the poll at Thornton Academy. In their survey they asked 1000 people about the stress of the holidays. Their data concluded, “Some 45 percent of those polled said the holiday season brings so much financial pressure, they would prefer to skip it altogether. Almost half said their level of stress related to holiday expenses is high or extremely high.”

The holidays are very stressful when you don’t know what to get someone and when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on them. Brooke Meserve ‘20, who loves the holidays said,My least favorite part about the holidays is stressing over what to buy for family and friends.”

While holidays are stressful for teens it can be even more stressful for parents and grandparents. Holiday can make us acutely aware of what is missing in our lives. Joan Tarbox, grandmother to two students and one alum said, “One family member I miss most during the holidays is my daughter it makes it very difficult to enjoy the holidays and also my mom and dad.” Christmas especially is a hard time of year for anyone who has family that has moved away or passed away because they miss them more and want to spend the holiday with them. Tarbox’s daughter died when she was 31 years old so it is very hard for her to enjoy the holidays without her daughter there.

This feeling of loss is common this time of year when everyone is posting photos of their families on social media. In an article called “Holiday Stress” by  Psychology Today Joel L. Young said, “Longing for family members who have moved away or died,” can cause stress on people during the holidays.

Brinn Pelletier ’21, Amaya Libby ’21, and Maja Fournier ’21 pose for a picture in front of a Christmas tree.

The holidays can be stressful when someone you love has died because you wish you could be with them, it is also hard when you have family that has moved away. Meserve ‘20 said, “My whole family lives in California so I do tend to really miss them during the holidays and I wish I could spend time with them.”

Reflecting on how people tend to eat more around the holidays Curit said, “I think people tend to eat more around the holidays because with all the yummy treats that are out it’s easy to grab a snack that is not very good for you.” Most people like to eat healthy so eating bad and gaining weight can stress people out which is another factor to stress around the holidays.

According to healthland.time.com, “Part of the reason people tend to gain weight around the holidays may have to do with the way that we think about food, and eating, outside of our workweek routines.” In an article written by New York times called ” The Kind on Holiday Weight Gain” Tara Parker-Pope said, “Several studies now show that the average weight gain during the winter holidays is just one pound.”

The holidays can be a difficult time of year for people with eating disorders because of the unhealthy foods people eat around the holidays. In an article called “Eating Disorders and Holidays” by mirrormirror.com Colleen Thompson said, “It is common for people who suffer from eating disorders to experience an increase in symptoms of their illness as the holiday season approaches. This may be due to stress over the impending festivities and/or anticipation of the presence of challenging (often high calorie) food in the weeks to come. Many sufferers tell themselves that if they lose a few pounds prior to the holidays, they will be able to allow themselves to eat like everyone else. In reality, this approach rarely works and the eating disorder reasserts itself during the family time.”

The holidays may be a very hard time for teens with any kind of disability and children who have difficulty sitting still for a long period of time or being around lots of people. In an article called “House Rules for the Holidays” by Carol Brady she said, “Tourettes children may not be able to suppress tics for a long time. A child with some OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) characteristics may not be able to put down the Gameboy during prayer time. A child with verbal blurting may not be easily corrected when inappropriate language occurs. In addition, depending on medication levels or on how tired, hungry, or worried you or your child may be, the situation may spin out of control.”

Reflecting on how the holidays can put stress on kids with and without learning disabilities the head of special education at Thornton Academy Mrs. Callahan said, “I think both kids with and kids without disabilities can have a hard time around the holidays depending on their home situation. Sometimes students with disabilities have a difficult time being home for long periods of time during the holidays, because their home life may not be as structured as when they are in school. I think holiday’s can cause stress for many people, but I think the hardest part for students with disabilities might be the fact that they have extended time outside of a school structure. This unstructured time, while needed, can cause stress when they return to school because the transition can be difficult coming back.”   

The holidays can be very stressful but at the end of the day it’s all about spending time with loved ones and being thankful for everything we have.

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