Stress, sleepless nights and money worries probably aren’t at the top of your list to Santa, but that’s what many of us will be getting this Christmas, our latest research reveals.

As well as bringing excitement and happiness, the festive period can also cause tension and worry, according to our survey. We found that almost a quarter of women get stressed when thinking of Christmas and almost a third worry about finances. In addition, far from decking the halls, many people in a relationship might secretly prefer to deck the in-laws this Christmas time! A fifth confess to ‘dreading’ seeing extended family, while 12% worry about having to behave themselves all day!

Our research was conducted earlier this month among adults in a relationship*. The key findings include:

  • On average, those questioned will be entertaining five guests this Christmas - with seven percent of us expecting more than 12 visitors
  • Almost two thirds of women (63%) claim to be the main festive organiser in their household. For three in 10, the duties are equally shared with someone else in their household
  • Almost a quarter of women say they get stressed out when thinking about the upcoming celebrations
  • More than twice as many women than men worry about the bank balance over Christmas - 31% compared with just 15%
  • A fifth of men in a relationship are already looking forward to it all being over, while seven percent are planning to drink their way through it!
  • It seems Irish eyes won’t necessarily be smiling, with people in Northern Ireland the most likely to get stressed out (29%) and almost a quarter (24%) in the region confessing that Christmas leaves them mentally drained and exhausted. In comparison, those in the northeast have the most positive outlook on Christmas, topping the survey with feelings of excitement, happiness and warmth

Meanwhile, many of us are dreading seeing family over the coming weeks, the chief reason being that extended family members have a tendency to take over. Of those quizzed, 35% say they would rather just be with immediate family. Also found was:

  • More than one in 10 (12%) of us are worried about having to behave in front of extended family all day
  • 20% of respondents are worried the in-laws will expect to be waited on while they do all the work
  • Those living in Wales are most unhappy about seeing the in-laws this year, with 40% claiming that they are dreading travelling to see them, while those in the north east of England were the most positive about going to see their in-laws this Christmas
  • The much-maligned mother-in-law is at the top of the Christmas wish-not list, with 20% of women and 11% of men saying that they are the least liked in-law. But sister-in-laws had better watch out too, with 12% of women voting them least liked!

ActiveQuote MD Rob Saunders says: “Although we associate Christmas with excitement and getting to spend time with loved ones, it’s easy to forget that all the shopping, entertaining and travelling can have a serious impact on your mental health. And while we often talk about the loneliness that can be experienced at this time of year, we forget the stress that can be caused by constantly entertaining or travelling.

“Feeling under pressure can often lead to anxiety, anger or even difficulty sleeping which, if prolonged, could have a long-term detrimental impact on your mental health and wellbeing. The Christmas break provides us with a good opportunity to relax and spend some quality time with friends and family, but for those of us who find stress, anxiety and financial worries have become a staple at this time of year, it’s important not to ignore these feelings. Take some well-deserved time to look after yourself and remember to always talk to someone if you’re feeling overwhelmed.”

Mental health worries are just one of the issues covered in our guide to handling a health crisis at Christmas, so have a read to find out how to access available support. You might also be interested to know that stress, anxiety and depression are increasingly recognised by health insurers. Read our guide to mental health and insurance and find out more about the difference having the right health insurance could make to your life.

* The study was conducted by OnePoll between December 8 and 12 2017 and polled 1,000 adults who are in a relationship, married or cohabiting and celebrate Christmas. Participants were recruited online and were paid to participate.