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Money issues leading cause of holiday stress for Americans

WASHINGTON, December 7, 2004 -- What causes the most stress during the holiday season? Money issues were the top vote getters for holiday stress, according to a recent poll by the American Psychological Association (APA).

The Survey found that 61% of Americans listed lack of money as the top cause of holiday stress followed by the pressures of gift giving, lack of time, and credit card debt. Survey results also show that younger Americans are more worried about lack of money and gift giving compared to people over the age of 35.

One in five Americans are worried that holiday stress could affect their physical health and 36% say they either eat or drink alcohol to cope with holiday stress. Forty-five percent say they rely on exercise to relieve stress while 44% turn to religious and spiritual activities. A small number turn to massage and yoga.

"People tend to reduce stress in ways they have learned over the course of time because they turn to what they know," says Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., APA executive director for professional practice. "Ironically, they may take comfort from eating or drinking because it's familiar, even though it's not good for their health. But, there are other behaviors people can learn to further relieve stress and the its effects that may be both better for them and longer lasting."

Newman recommends the following tips to help deal with holiday stressors and to build resilience.

Make connections. Good relationships with family and friends are important. So, view the holidays as a time to reconnect with people. Additionally, accepting help and support from those who care about you can help alleviate stress.

Set realistic goals. Taking small concrete steps to deal with holiday tasks instead of overwhelming yourself with goals that are too far reaching for a busy time.

Keep things in perspective. Try to consider stressful situations in
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Contact: Peter Wilson
pwilson@apa.org
202-336-5910
American Psychological Association Practice Directorate
7-Dec-2004


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