Anyone desperate enough to Google the term “holiday stress” will be rewarded (or become more overwhelmed) with about 395,000,000 results. Limit the search to “holiday stress statistics 2019” and the results come down to a measly 28,100,000 or so. There are even specific memes and GIFs on how to handle the financial, social and emotional stresses of the season, including my current favorite, the article that ran in this newspaper by a Buddhist teacher who advises practicing “acceptance,” an activity that even on nonholidays can often seem as challenging as climbing Mount Everest in an ice storm.
As the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute’s newsletter put it, “Because the holiday season often requires us to keep track of and pay attention to a greater number of responsibilities than usual, the brain’s prefrontal cortex goes into overdrive. Over time, a high level of demand can decrease memory, halt production of new brain cells and cause existing brain cells to die.”