Pressure’s on for a perfect Christmas: Unrealistic expectations put Brits’ health at risk

21 December 2016
  • Three-quarters of Brits feel stressed at Christmas time
  • A fifth wish that they could better deal with the pressure they put on themselves
  • A third of people struggle finding time to look after themselves in the run up to and during the festive period 
Three generations of a male family

Research released today from Bupa UK reveals that three-quarters (74%) of Brits find Christmas stressful, with the pressure of delivering the ‘perfect’ Christmas as a leading cause.

 When asked for one thing they would change about Christmas, the most popular response was the ‘unrealistic expectations’ people put on themselves. A fifth (20%) of Brits suffer from this self-imposed pressure, with a quarter (24%) of women feeling the strain. 

Twice as many people say it’s the pressure they put on themselves (20%), rather than expectations from friends and family (9%), which they find most stressful. 

With festivities in full swing and the big day just around the corner, it seems that many people are so preoccupied with planning the perfect day that their own health has dropped to the bottom of their to-do lists. 

While three-quarters of people find Christmas stressful, almost a third (29%) don’t do anything to combat these feelings as they don’t consider their own wellbeing as a priority during the festive period. 

Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health, Bupa UK said: “It’s clear that the natural stresses that come at Christmas are exacerbated by the pressure that we put on ourselves. This can lead to feelings of worry and anxiety which if left ignored, can leave you run down and worn out before the big day even arrives. 

“It’s incredibly important to make time for yourself. Christmas is, after all, meant to be enjoyable, relaxing with loved ones. Remember, you don’t need to control everything and it is okay to ask for help when you need it. By factoring some ‘me’ time in or buying yourself a treat when Christmas shopping, you can make sure that you are not stuck at the bottom of your priority list.” 

A third (32%) of all respondents worry that they’ll buy the wrong presents while a fifth (19%) feel stressed about juggling commitments and pressurised situations with their family. 

The full research findings include: 

  • A fifth (18%) of people find Christmas overwhelming while a quarter (26%) feel tired and worn out during the lead up
  • 15% of people are worried about weight-gain over Christmas
  • 37% worry about the financial stress of buying presents 

Notes to editor

These findings were based on a survey of 2042 British people, conducted by Populus on behalf of Bupa UK between 2 and 4 December 2016.   

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