Stress by the numbers

Today, I have a story appearing in both The News & Observer in Raleigh and Charlotte Observer dealing with holiday stress. Not basic run-of-the-mill holiday stress, but last-minute, there’s-just-four-days-left, curl-into-the-fetal-position, AHHHHHH! holiday stress. You can click on the link above to read the story or, come back tomorrow and Thursday for an expanded version, complete with extra info & tips, outtakes, a blooper reel, an interview with the director, free popcorn —

Sorry, that’s what I do when I get stressed — I babble, talk nonsense, confuse my blog with the blockbuster movie I envision making. Deep breath, count to 10 — better make it five, because really, who has time to count to 10 this time of year? So yes, over the next two days an expanded version of the story, which appears today in both papers.

Today, in a misery-loves-company gesture, I’ll share some survey findings on how your fellow Americans are dealing with holiday stress. These stats come from Liberty Mutual unless otherwise specified.

Do you worry about whether to tip your mailman?
What about your hair stylist?
  • 35 percent of Americans have spent beyond their financial means when buying gifts. 35 percent? An especially curious finding in light of the fact 42 percent of Americans in a SleepBetter.Org survey said they’re worried about how their going to pay their holiday bills.
  • 61 percent of Americans agree that regifting is socially acceptable. If you’re tempted to regift, here’s a quick guide on how to do it successfully. If you’re in the fence, here’s an ethical take on the subject.
  • 48 percent of Americans will buy fewer gifts this year. A dubious figure based on the amount of time it took me to park at Crabtree Valley Mall on Monday morning.
  • 71 percent of Americans say it’s a good idea to establish a spending limit with those you plan to exchange gifts with. (The stat we’d like to see is how many people actually stick to that limit.)
  • 73 percent of us stress over giving the “right” gift, according to FranklinCovey.
  • 50 percent of Americans believe you should take into account how much the other person will be able to afford on a gift for you when deciding how much to spend on a gift for them. That’s either very thoughtful or very tit-for-tat.
  • Stressed over who to tip for the holidays in a world where even the corner take-out joint solicits a gratuity? Here’s who we plan to tip in the spirit of the season: teacher, 55 percent; babysitter, housekeeper, hair stylist, mail carrier, all 41 percent.
  • Sending a card this holiday season? 86 percent of Americans claim they are.

    $20 seems to be the consensus on an appropriate amount to spend on a holiday gift exchange.

  • Most suspect stat we ran across: 86 percent of Americans plan to send greeting cards through the mail.
  • Most compounding stat: During the holidays, already a time when people tend to overeat, 40 percent of adults in the American Psychological Association’s 2010 Stress in America survey said they overeat as a way to cope with holiday stress.
  • First runner-up most compounding stat: 17 percent of kids surveyed said if their parents are stressed, that stresses them.
  • 57 percent of Americans plan to give a gift to their co-workers, 42 percent will give a gift to their boss.

Photo at top: Ralphie appeared to have no stress over giving his teacher a rather lavish Christmas gift.

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