Magazine article USA TODAY

'Tis the Season for Holiday Stress

Magazine article USA TODAY

'Tis the Season for Holiday Stress

Article excerpt

Nearly half of all women in the U.S. experience heightened stress during the holidays at great risk to the health of their minds and bodies, according to a national survey released by the American Psychological Association. Despite repeated warnings about the effects of stress on psychological and physical health, women are relying more on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress during the holidays and the rest of the year.

"People who cope with stress by engaging in unhealthy behaviors and lifestyles--like overeating and drinking--regardless of the time of year, may alleviate symptoms of stress in the short term, but end up creating significant health problems in the long run and, ironically, more stress," explains Russ Newman, executive director for professional practice. "Research shows that stress, and the unhealthy behaviors people use to manage it, contribute to some of our country's biggest health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. So, it's imperative that people take steps to address issues like holiday stress in healthier ways."

A national stress survey conducted by APA found that, during the year, 31% of women turn to food to manage stress compared to 19% of men. The holiday stress survey, meanwhile, showed that comfort eating rises by 10% at the holidays as a source of stress relief for women (versus a six percent increase for men). …

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