Thursday, December 2, 2021

APA Poll Reveals COVID-19 and Other Worries During Holiday Festivities

Forty-one percent of Americans said their level of stress increases during the holidays, compared with just 7% percent who said it diminishes, according to a nationwide poll commissioned by APA.

Top areas of concern were contracting COVID-19 during gatherings (38%) and finding (40%) and affording (46%) gifts. People who are vaccinated are more worried about contracting COVID-19 than those who are not vaccinated (43% vs. 28%). Additionally, nearly half of adults (47%) were anxious about missing family members around the holidays.

The poll, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of APA, was fielded between November 17 to 21 among a nationally representative sample of 2,119 adults.

“This holiday season, as many are returning to pre-COVID traditions like seeing family and shopping, it’s normal to feel a mixture of emotions,” said APA President Vivian Pender, M.D. “It’s important to take joy in the moments we can and to know that it’s OK not to feel OK. Check in with yourself, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, talk to friends or family, and know that help is available.”

Among the poll’s top findings:

  • 40% of health care workers are worried about working long hours in the holiday season. 54% of them reported that their stress increases during holidays generally, with 33% anticipating higher stress levels than in 2020.
  • Parents said they are particularly worried about the holidays, with nearly half concerned about contracting (48%) or spreading (47%) COVID-19 at gatherings. Mothers are more likely than fathers to worry about affording gifts (61% vs. 47%) and are more likely than fathers to say the level of stress in their life increases during the holidays (53% vs. 39%).
  • Younger adults were consistently more likely than older adults to say they are anxious about the holidays, particularly about social and family dynamics.
  • Hispanic adults were more likely than those of other racial and ethnic groups to say they anticipate feeling more stress compared with last year.

Despite these worries, the holidays are still associated with positive, festive feelings. In response to an open-ended question—"In a word or two, how would you describe your emotions toward the upcoming holiday season?”—34% of adults said they were “excited,” 15% said they were “happy,” 6% responded with “good,” and 5% responded with “looking forward to it.”

“While we are pleased to be rejoining our families and friends, depending on who you are or where you work, stress may be a bigger factor,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “It’s particularly important in this season of celebrating to remember how hard our health care workforce continues to labor to ensure the rest of us can be safe and that this work has an emotional toll. Remember to protect yourselves and those around you by following health guidelines in these COVID times.”

The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race, and region. Results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

For related information on Americans’ reaction to the pandemic, see the Psychiatric News article “Pandemic Has Taken Toll on Mental Health of Americans, APA Poll Finds.”

(Image: iStock/Highwaystarz-Photography)

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