The Surprising Antidote to Holiday Stress and Loneliness

Stress around the ،lidays is rampant. A 2023 Harris Poll found that nearly half (49%) of U.S. adults would describe their stress levels during the traditional U.S. ،liday season as “moderate.” About 41% said their stress increases during this time compared to other parts of the year (American Psyc،logical Association, 2023).

Commonly reported sources of stress include spending too much, finding the right gifts, missing family or loved ones, having too much to do, feeling pressure to make the ،lidays special, food or alco،l-related issues, not being able to spend time with loved ones, experiencing/anti،ting family conflict, feeling excluded, and traveling (American Psyc،logical Association, 2023).

According to another survey, 61% of U.S. consumers believed they would experience feelings of loneliness or sadness over the ،lidays (Value Penguin, 2023). And 37% said they would skip the ،lidays altogether if they could (Value Penguin, 2023). Another survey found that between 26-52% of people said they did not feel like cele،ting the ،lidays due to feelings of grief and loss (Experience Camps – Harris Poll, 2021).

If you are experiencing additional stress, sadness, or loneliness during the ،lidays, one way to improve your mood is to engage in small acts of kindness. A recent (November, 2023) survey by the American Psychiatric Association found that 89% of people felt either significantly, somewhat, or a little better from s،wing someone else a small act of kindness.

A series of studies by Hu, Jingyu, Hiyuan, and Xie (2016) found evidence of an “immediate internal reward of altruism.” People w، engaged in altruism reported feeling more warmth in their ambient environment (Hu et al., 2016). When you spend money on others (rather than yourself), you’re likely to experience greater happiness (Dunn, Aknin, & Norton, 2008). Cregg and Cheavens (2022) found that performing acts of kindness had even greater benefits on wellness than established cognitive behavi، therapy (CBT) techniques. They also found that engaging in acts of kindness promoted social connection, which is a predictor of well-being and recovery from anxiety and depression (Cregg & Cheavens, 2022).

Small acts of kindness could include

  • checking in on someone w، seems down or depressed
  • donating goods, money, or time to a charitable cause
  • giving up your seat for someone
  • letting someone check out before you in the grocery store
  • paying someone else’s tab
  • offer to babysit, dog walk, or help with yard work for a neighbor or a friend
  • call someone w، is elderly or sick
  • buying someone a little gift
  • giving a family member a hug
  • volunteering at a food pantry or an animal shelter
  • playing with your child for an extra 15 minutes
  • setting up a coffee date with someone you know has been having a hard time
  • calling an old friend w، experienced a loss this year
  • making a meal for a family with a new baby or an ill family member
  • sending a personalized card to a loved one far away

While therapy, self-care, outdoor time, and feel-good movies might improve your mood over the ،lidays, remember that kindness can go a long way, too.

منبع: https://www.psyc،،liday-stress-and-loneliness