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As Holiday Season Begins, America’s Stress Rises, But Less About COVID-19

  • December 01, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C.— A new poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released today shows that while nearly a third of Americans report that they anticipate being more stressed out this holiday season than last year, they are less worried about spreading or contracting COVID at a festive gathering. They report being most worried about affording holiday gifts.

These were the findings of the December 2022 Healthy Minds Monthly Poll from the American Psychiatric Association. It was conducted online by Morning Consult from Nov. 9-14, 2022, among 2,209 U.S. adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Among the poll’s top findings:

  • 31% of adults say they expect to feel more stressed this upcoming holiday season compared to last. This is an increase of 9 percentage points since 2021.
  • Potential drivers of stress include worries like affording holiday gifts (50%) and meals (39%) and finding and securing holiday gifts (37%). Younger adults and those making less than $50,000 are more likely to worry about affording the holidays.
  • Compared to 2021, adults are less worried this holiday season about spreading (35% in 2021 versus 25% in 2022) or contracting (38% in 2021 versus 26% in 2022) COVID-19 at a holiday gathering. Adults are also less worried about spending time with family who have different views about COVID-19 (30% in 2021 versus 18% in 2022).

“This is a busy time of year for many people, and it’s common to put a lot of expectations on ourselves during the holidays,” said APA President Rebecca W. Brendel, M.D., J.D. “We can all benefit by enjoying moments that bring meaning and belonging, but those times are different for each of us. It’s also okay to opt out of some or all events if they bring more stress or distress than joy. There is no one right way to spend the holiday time of year.”

On the positive side, the plurality of adults (47%) say they are most looking forward to seeing family and friends this holiday season, of the options tested. That varied by age: Older adults (45-64: 50%, 65+: 63%) are more likely than younger adults (18-34: 37%, 35-44: 36%) to say so. A fifth of American adults (21%) said they were most looking forward to eating good food.

Parents (39%) are more likely than non-parents (27%) to say they anticipate experiencing more stress this holiday season compared to last year. Young adults and Democrats are more likely to worry about discussing politics and spending time with family with different viewpoints about COVID-19 during the holidays.

“While Americans are looking forward to seeing family this year, it’s important to remain vigilant about COVID-19, the flu and RSV,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We are in a different situation than in 2020 or even 2021, but it’s still important to take precautions and stay home if you are sick.”

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit www.psychiatry.org.

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