More people are feeling the weight of collective trauma and holiday blues. Here’s how to cope

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We’ve all heard the phrase “holiday blues.” Turns out, it’s a real thing.

This winter holiday season stirs up conflicting feelings for many, and a new survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) shows why. Nearly 9 in 10 people are stressed by not having enough money, family conflicts, and missing loved ones. But those are not the only concerns.

“Global conflict, racism and racial injustice, inflation, and climate-related disasters are all weighing on the collective consciousness of Americans,” states a recent APA blog.

Over time, this stress and emotional distress has an effect on our bodies, too, experts say. In the last several years, researchers noted  a rise in chronic illnesses, such as high cholesterol or arthritis, and increases in mental health needs. The two are connected.

Notably, most people — around 67% of adults — tend to downplay stress, saying that their problems are “not bad enough,” according to the APA.

However, chronic illnesses and new diagnoses have increased, particularly among 35- to 44-year-olds. Between 2019 and 2023, the rates of chronic illnesses rose by 10 percentage points. Rates of new diagnoses increased by 14 percentage points between the same period.

Philadelphia resident Cara Hammer remembers feeling like life was not worth living a few years ago.

  • December 23, 2023
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