Why most Americans find it impossible to relax during the holidays

4 min readDec 19, 2019
A new study conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Joy Organics explored the festive stressors of the holiday season. (Photo by hue12 photography on Unsplash)

Getting the perfect gift for everyone on the list, cooking a delicious holiday meal and keeping up with all the activities are some of the biggest stressors of the festive season, according to new research.

But a survey of 2,000 Americans found financial concerns actually topped the list of worries when heading into the holiday season — with 56% saying this was one of their concerns.

Other stressors included family events (35%) and decorating the house (29%).

The study, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Joy Organics, explored the festive stressors and anxiety-inducing moments of the holiday season.

It uncovered that 88% feel the festive season is the most stressful time of the year.

The stress starts early — 84% feel stressed when November rolls around, with the majority feeling their stress peak in November.

Sixty-seven percent of those studied say they try to create the “perfect” holiday — which leads to stress — while a further 47% say they take on more than they can handle during the holiday season.

In addition, 77% find it hard to relax during the holiday season, which can leave them stressed and worn out.

Beyond the lack of “me time” and biting off more than they can chew, 43% of Americans polled tend to be overscheduled during the holiday season, while a further 59% would define the holiday season as “chaotic.”

As a result of all the madness that comes with the festive season, it’s no wonder two in five would rather stand in line at the DMV than deal with festive stress while another one in five would rather be on a plane with a crying baby next to them.

Joy Smith, self-care advocate and CEO of Joy Organics said, “With the stress and dread that often accompanies the holiday season, taking time to really ask yourself what you need in order to relax, be present and enjoy yourself is imperative.”

Downsizing the holiday festivities is becoming increasingly common, most likely because nearly half (49%) of those studied struggle to slow down and actually enjoy the holiday with their loved ones. Another third find they simply no longer enjoy the holiday season overall.

But how are Americans downsizing their holidays? Half plan on setting a budget for gifts while a further 34% plan on being more mindful to not overschedule events.

However, the holiday season is also a time when people spend more time with their families than usual — which can no doubt lead to some squabbles and disagreements.

The average American will experience six different family squabbles between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

When it comes to what people are quarreling over, how much money to spend on other people was the top familial disagreement of those who have experienced a squabble during the holiday season — with one in five revealing this to be their biggest source of contention around the holidays.

“It’s been enlightening for us to see what concerns Americans most in regard to the holidays season,” said Smith, “and it’s another reminder how important holistic wellness is this time of year.”


  1. Financial concerns 56%
  2. Getting the perfect gift for everyone on the list 48%
  3. Just keeping up with all of the activities and expectations of the season 46%
  4. Family events 35%
  5. Cooking a delicious meal for family and friends 31%
  6. Decorating the house/tree 29%
  7. Wrapping all the presents 28%
  8. Having a house full of people 27%
  9. Making time for self-care/ ‘me-time’ 26%
  10. Traveling to see loved ones 25%


  1. How much money to spend on other people 20%
  2. How much to spend on presents 20%
  3. What presents to buy 18%
  4. Which family to visit 16%
  5. Where to spend Christmas Day 16%
  6. How much money to spend on each other 16%
  7. Old arguments being brought up 15%
  8. Who cleans up 13%
  9. The cost of entertaining relatives 11%
  10. Who cooks dinner 11%

>> Download the video and infographic for this research story <<

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