Stress is a fairly normal part of everyday life. But with Thanksgiving just around the corner and the holiday season quick on its heels, these daily stressors may be increasingly replaced by more seasonal concerns. CivicScience asked 6,742 U.S. adults about which triggers cause the most stress when thinking about Thanksgiving this year.
The results revealed that 71% of respondents are feeling some form of stress when thinking about the upcoming holiday, in contrast to the 29% who are stress-free. Those who are not stressed could be choosing not to celebrate, keeping things simple, or skilled at managing their triggers. But what can be gleaned from those who are feeling the pressure of Turkey Day?
When we remove those for whom stress does not apply, these issues come to the surface more clearly. While family drama leads the way, cooking is not far behind in inciting the most stress in respondents. Trying to lose weight, travel, political conversations, and impending house guests also add to the discomfort.
The fact that so many of these stressors received a similar percentage of responses indicates that U.S. adults are largely facing similar obstacles as Thanksgiving draws near.
Gender Roles Are Front and Center
As the data shows, certain stressors fall more heavily upon certain genders. While cooking and weight loss are especially stressful for women, travel and political conversations are hot-button issues for men.
There is a lot to unpack in this graph, much of which sheds light on the often unspoken roles men and women are expected to play in society–even around the Thanksgiving table.
Parental Status Brings New Burdens
Life stage, specifically parental status, also plays a role in the responsibilities and, as a result, the stress, that may be piling up as Thanksgiving approaches. 34% of those who feel stressed about groceries and cooking are parents, while 45% are parents and grandparents. By contrast, 50% of those worried about their special diet being accommodated have no parental affiliation. These statistics illuminate the very real distinction between who may be hosting and cooking the meal, versus who may be arriving, ready to receive.
It is also worth noting that stress caused by political conversations is most heavily skewed towards those who are parents and grandparents, followed closely by those who are neither. This data could speak to a perennial tension between those who are more established in their beliefs, and those who prefer to challenge tradition. How that plays out around the dinner table will likely vary.
Money Could Buy Happiness
Given the expense of the holiday season, it seems only fitting that income would play a role in creating or alleviating stress for certain individuals. Across the board, money tends to decrease stress, as evidenced in the graph below. High-income earners demonstrate some stress around travel, house guests and, of course, weight loss–one issue that transcends income level. But elsewhere, disparities between low and middle-income earners become starker.
Low-income earners are by far the most concerned about introducing a new partner to the family, while middle-income earners have the most stress around the accommodation of their special diets. That said, when viewed from a distance, low-income earners do tend to carry the most stress around the holiday. This suggests that, in some cases, money really can buy happiness… or at least a little less Thanksgiving stress.
Location is also a Stress-Inducer
Where you live, or where you are traveling to, also factors into the kind of stress that could be running high in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. For suburban dwellers, stress is especially strong around weight loss and politics. For urbanites, introducing a new partner and the oft-dreaded travel are the biggest Thanksgiving triggers. Priorities are different for those in rural areas, where weight loss, family drama, and cooking create a trifecta of stress.
Location does, it seems, have quite an influence on Thanksgiving, a holiday known for bringing families–flung far and wide–around the same table.
Stress continues to be rampant. And as we look forward to what is often heralded as “the most wonderful time of the year,” it is helpful to keep in mind that this time of the year also puts stress into high gear.
U.S. adults who are already very stressed out on a daily basis make up 48% of those concerned about special diet accommodations, 35% of those worried about hosting guests, and 26% of those triggered both by traveling and family. And that’s without including the somewhat stressed.
Suffice it to say, the majority of Americans are carrying the weight of some form of stress this Thanksgiving. Regardless of gender, life stage, money or location, stress is a reality that simply cannot be escaped. And while certain groups may be more stressed in some areas than others, the fact remains that 71% of U.S. adults are feeling this unspoken, yet very tangible burden.
So while the holiday may focus on feelings of gratitude and togetherness, it seems clear that it won’t be quelling anxieties or inviting a sense of relaxation into the minds of Americans any time soon.