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Holiday 2023 Stress Outlook
November 15, 2023|Read Time - 2 minutes
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Americans more concerned about holiday weight gain than COVID-19, survey reveals

With the holiday season nearing, Sesame conducted our annual pulse check on holiday stress in America. We delved into the most prevalent stressors, their effects on mental health and well-being, and whether or not consumers are reaching out for support. Dive into the results below:

Mental health & the holidays

In a slight but noticeable shift from the previous holiday season, Americans in 2023 seem to be carrying a marginally lighter burden of stress. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents described their holiday stress levels as moderate to extreme, a decrease from 72% of those surveyed in 2022.

The survey also revealed that weight concerns are beginning to eclipse other common holiday stressors: 33% of Americans are reporting an increase in stress over weight gain this holiday season, while just 23% note an increase in COVID-related concerns.

Here’s how this year’s results stacked up against the 2022 holiday season:

  • 52% report an increase in anxiety (up slightly from 49% in 2022)
  • 41% report an increase in depression (consistent YoY)
  • 66% report an increase in financial stress (up slightly from 64% in 2022)

    This stress makes 34% of Americans consider seeking out a mental health professional to talk to -- and another 14% are interested but don’t feel they can afford it right now.

Sources of stress

Two thirds (64%) of Americans reported an increase in stress levels during the holiday season. Their main concerns? Inflation tops the list of biggest stressors for those surveyed, with 34% rating it their number one cause of stress. Financial stressors were followed by shopping for gifts (22%) and navigating difficult family dynamics (18%).

When asked who caused them the most stress during the holiday season, 30% said their extended family was the main culprit, followed by their kids (16%). Other stressors included significant others and significant others’ families.

COVID-19 and Holiday 2023 Plans

Concerns about COVID-19 during the holiday season remained largely unchanged compared to last year’s survey results; 2 in 5 Americans said that they were likely to steer clear of large gatherings such as holiday performances and holiday parties, and 41% will skip traveling to see out-of-town family and friends.

However, less than a quarter (23%) of Americans noted an increase in COVID-related stress during the holidays, marking a decrease from 29% in 2022.

Coping with stress

A significant number of Americans report heightened stress levels during the holiday season, highlighting the overwhelming nature of this period. So, what coping mechanisms are they employing? Indulging in comfort food (24%) and engaging in exercise (15%) top the list. About a quarter of Americans (23%) say that they mitigate their stress levels by talking with someone, be it a close family member or friend (15%) or a mental health professional (8%).

Methodology: This survey was commissioned by Sesame via Pollfish. Data was collected from 500 general population respondents in the U.S., ages 18+, on November 9, 2023.

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