US: Your job may be ruining your holidays
February 9th, 2024, Clifton Mark

US: Your job may be ruining your holidays

The holidays can be fun, but are they good for us? All the tasks of shopping, entertaining and generally preparing merriment can be a source of strain and stress, then there are the risks of drinking and eating to excess and sleeping too little.

A recent YouGov survey revealed that 64% of Americans believe that the holiday season presents some challenge to their health and well-being. But the health hazards of the holidays do not fall evenly on the country’s entire population. While there are differences between age groups and genders, it’s Americans in full-time work who feel the holidays are the biggest challenge to their well-being.

Among all Americans, expense is the most common complaint, with 37% of respondents citing high holiday costs as a challenge to their well-being. Stresses associated with holiday-related chores and obligations are also common worries. A quarter of Americans mentioned family-related stress (27%), choosing gifts (24%), and having too much shopping, entertaining and other preparatory work to do (20%).  Overindulgence is less of a problem for all groups then costs or holiday duties. Having too much food on offer is only a challenge for 16% of Americans and liquor flowing too freely is only a worry for 5%. 

A deeper look into the demographic data also reveals some differences between how the holidays affect different groups. For example, there is a statistically significant holiday stress gap. Choosing gifts poses a challenge to more women’s well-being than men’s (27% vs 20%), as do the accumulation of holiday chores, such as entertaining and preparing things (22% vs 17%). This all may indicate that holiday duties fall disproportionately to women.

There are also differences between age groups. The holidays seem roughest on those aged 35-44 years old. They’re more likely than the national average to complain about cost, family stress, chores, lack of sleep and excessive social obligations than most other age groups. In some cases, the margin of difference is quite large. For example, those aged 35-44 are three times more likely to see social obligations as a health threat than those over 55 (21% vs 7%). Those aged 55+ generally feel better about the holidays and are more likely than any other age group (36%) to say that the holiday season does not pose a challenge to their well-being. 

How full-time work is ruining the holidays for Americans

While age and gender present some variation in how much the holidays affect the health and well-being of Americans, work status is much more significant. Having a full-time job appears to have a catastrophic Americans’ well-being during the holidays. Those in full-time work lead the three categories (working full time, part time and not working) in every category of health challenge

Those in full time work feel more challenged than those not in work by excess food (21% vs. 13%); their families (33% vs. 24%); their social obligations (18% vs. 8%). In fact, those with full-time jobs are more likely than those not working to see the financial cost of the holidays as a threat to their health. Part-time workers fall somewhere in between. In general, full-time work is thought to correlate with positive health outcomes but at least during the holidays, it’s workers who seem most anxious about their health. 

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YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of 1502 adults in the US aged 18+ years. All surveys were conducted online in January 2023. Data uses a nationally representative sample. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.