Eight in ten South Africans admit to being â??stressed outâ?? by the holidays, according to a just-released national year-end survey by a leading pharmaceutical company.
Pharma Dynamics, one of SAâ??s top distributors of Central Nervous System (CNS) medication, commissioned a poll among 500 South Africans across various walks of life, age and gender groups. The survey was conducted by market research specialists Leelyn Management, and sought to identify the most common sources of stress during the holidays.

Seasonal expenses are the biggest source of holiday stress
The survey revealed that seasonal expenses are by far the biggest source of holiday stress for 92% of people, and that women are more likely than men to worry about finances.
Securing the house before going away on holiday was rated as the 2nd most stressful activity by 85% of respondents and 72% cited memories of loved ones who passed away as the third most common source of stress.

More sex means less stress
Interestingly, 90% of those polled, listed having sex as the least stressful activity, which supports the notion that more sex means less stress.
Mariska Fouche, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, says various clinical studies have shown that when holding your partnerâ??s hand, couples show a significantly reduced stress response in the brain.

Kissing and hugging alleviates daily anxiety

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

â??Kissing and hugging also alleviates daily anxiety. Cuddling couples report much lower stress and depression levels than their unaffectionate counterparts, and pairs who smooch a lot are eight times less likely to be tense or depressed,â? says Fouche.
According to the Pharma Dynamics poll, 46% rated the additional pressure of hosting and accommodating family, along with Christmas shopping (42%), among the major contributors of holiday stress.
Spending downtime with friends and family (69%) and enjoying the great outdoors (68%) were noted among the most stress-free holiday activities.
â??The holiday season,â? says Fouche, â??is a time of joy, cheer and parties, but to many, it is also a very challenging time of year.
â??People who regularly have high levels of overall stress are most likely to feel stress specific to the holidays. Being aware of stressors and taking steps towards managing them is essential to making the holiday season less stressful.â?
Advice for dealing with holiday stress:
1.   Be realistic about what you can and cannot afford. Decide on a budget and stick to it
2.   Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Social expectations are a huge source of stress for many people
3.   Donâ??t over-commit and take on more than you can comfortably handle â?? you donâ??t have to be superman or superwoman
4.   Keep things in perspective â?? try to consider stressful moments in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Also teach your kids how to keep things in perspective, including what type of and number of gifts they receive
5.   Try something new â?? celebrate the holidays in a new way
6.   Exercise for stress relief â?? it will increase your overall health and sense of wellbeing
7.   Donâ??t turn to food, drink or drugs for relief if youâ??re suffering from increased stress levels during the holidays. Rather find healthier coping strategies
8.   Spend time with supportive and caring people â?? view the holidays as a time to re-connect with the special people in your life
9.   Do something for someone else. There is something so comforting and rewarding about donating your time to helping someone else, and now is a great time to do so
10. Get some rest and relaxation. Make time for yourself and let others share in the responsibility of planning activities
Mariska Fourie says that stress from the ailing economy and the increasing cost of living can leave one especially vulnerable to increased anxiety during the holidays. It is normal to feel overwhelmed during the festive season and the pressure to have the perfect holiday can be extraordinary.

Identify stressors and find healthy ways to handle stress
â??My advice to both men and women is to pay attention to what causes their stress and to find healthy ways of managing it. Everyone has the power to reduce the impact of stress. With practice, you can learn to spot stressors and stay in control when the pressure builds,â? says Fouche.
Those suffering from anxiety or compounded stress during the holiday season can contact Pharma Dynamicsâ?? toll-free helpline on 0800 205 026, which is manned by trained SADAG counsellors who are on call from 08h00 to 20h00, seven days a week. 

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.