Are You a Candidate for Holiday Stress?

Sally Connolly, LMFT and John E. Turner, LMFT

Assess your level of holiday stress by taking this quiz.

It happened again ... The holidays are upon us. For some, this is an exciting and wonderful time. For others it is dreaded and avoided where ever possible. For everyone, it can be a time of poor habits and self-care which quickly lead to holiday stress.

Too much to do and too many people to care for; or too little to do and too few people in your life can both add up to holiday stress and lead to physical, emotional or mental health problems.

Instructions for the holiday stress test:

To determine your score and see if you are a candidate for stress this holiday season, answer Yes or No to each of these questions.

Give yourself 5 points for each "No" statement on the holiday stress test.

1. I am able to be very realistic about what to expect from myself over the holidays.
2. I anticipate the holidays with genuine pleasure most of the time.
3. I know how to set a budget for holiday gifts and stick with it.
4. Christmas shopping and spending a lot of money on gifts are not the most important part of this season.
5. I am very realistic of what I can expect from others over the holidays.
6. I have a partner to celebrate the holidays with me.
7. My partner and I get along well and enjoy each other’s company.
8. My partner and I work well as a team most of the time.
9. I have family that I enjoy spending time with over the holidays.
10. My family likes and appreciates me.
11. My in-laws (and/or step-family) like and appreciate me.
12. I have close friends that I enjoy spending time with over the holidays.
13. I take part in some comforting and pleasant holiday rituals and look forward to them every year.
14. Getting approval is not very important to me.
15. I know healthy ways to cope if I start to feel overwhelmed.
16. I have ways of giving to others in my community.
17. I am not overly scheduled and have a pretty good balance of work, fun and relaxation.
18. I know how to say “no”.
19. I am able to schedule “down” time for myself on a regular basis.
20. I eat healthily, drink alcohol moderately or not at all and get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily.
21. I have never experienced the “holiday blues”.
22. I have not felt holiday stress in the past.

Give yourself 10 points for each "No" statement on the holiday stress test..

1. I have a spouse or partner to help me rear our children.
2. I am not providing care for any ill or disabled family member.
3. I have not had any major losses over the last 2 years.
4. I have enough money to cover my basic needs.
5. I had a reasonably happy childhood with fond memories of the holidays.
6. I am never affected by the “Holiday Blues”.
7. My health, physically, mentally and emotionally is good.


5 or 10 points. Good for you. Count yourself both fortunate and with a healthy approach to this time of the year. You have a reasonable level of stress and, with healthy self awareness and self care, you should be able to really enjoy these holidays.

15 - 20 points. You are clearly a candidate for burning out this season. Talk over your situation with someone you can count on to be a good sounding board or offer simple and specific advice for how to relax and enjoy this time.

25 or more points. Think seriously about what you can do to change your situation, if possible. Put out the red flag and wave it.

Think about who you can call on to be there for you?
Decide what do you need to do to get support and relief?
Muster your courage or let down your guard and ask for help.

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