Stress professor reveals top 10 tips

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London: Endless shopping queues, cold weather and the nightmare prospect of having the in-laws round for lunch are just some of the reasons why the UK is dreading Christmas 2006!

New research released today by The Wrigley Company reveals that nearly a quarter (23%) of Brits are stressed out and not looking forward to the Christmas break. *

With just ten days until the last shopping weekend before Christmas – the most stressful period of all according to 26% of study respondents – Wrigley has teamed up with top ‘stress professorÂ’ Cary Cooper to help tackle BritainÂ’s Yuletide stress problem. Professor Cooper has developed a formula – based on the results of the survey of 2,400 people – comprising the UKÂ’s key Christmas stress elements that will allow Brits to calculate their personal Christmas stress factor. The professor has come up with some top tips on how to reduce those stress levels as well!

Exhaustion from the Christmas build up, leaving for work and coming home in the dark, getting in the supplies at home, those family members you just don’t want to see, and the return to work all add up to –

Exhaustion Period + 2 (Preparation for Xmas + Weather) + (Family Time + Return to Work) / 2 = Christmas stress!

In fact, the study shows that two million Brits will choose to flee the country on holiday and escape the Christmas crush altogether! Of those who stay behind, nearly half of us (48%) will get stressed out by the experience of Christmas shopping and buying festive foods; 14% will even spend time worrying about the workload left on their desks whilst others will agonise over who gets a Christmas card – with 12% even wanting cards scrapped altogether! It seems that the UK population this Christmas is more likely to resemble Scrooge than Tiny TimÂ…

People are planning to try and take action this year to battle the Christmas stress factor with 16% intending to nurture healthy habits like taking exercise or chewing gum to help manage stress. A further 28% aim to avoid the high streets altogether by shopping online; and 27% will be hiding from people that they find most stressful to try lower their stress levels.

Alarmingly, 44% of those surveyed admit they have no idea how to manage their stress levels and it would appear that putting your feet up and watching the telly (a favourite stress buster) wonÂ’t help at Christmas time, with endless reruns of the Snowman and Mary Poppins leaving nearly half of the population (47%) ready to tear their hair out!

“Christmas should be a happy time of year, but the pressures of modern life mean it’s becoming a period of stress for some instead. Simple things like planning ahead, shopping online, reserving quiet time or actually looking at the positive aspects of spending time with family are all ways you can manage stress and get the most out of the festive season,” says Professor Cary Cooper.

“Managing life’s little stresses doesn’t have to be complex; scientific studies have shown that chewing sugar free gum can help you relieve the symptoms of stress. So this Christmas, whether you’re shopping for presents or preparing for the family to arrive, a piece of gum could help you stay calm,” says Alexandra MacHutchon, from Wrigley

*KRC Research, November 2006, sample of 2414 adults in the UK

Professor Cary CooperÂ’s top tips for managing Christmas stress

1) Do not leave everything to the last minute! Make sure you do start planning in the weeks leading up to Christmas – presents, provisions and what to do at New Year

2) Remember to have some fun along the way; do things you enjoy doing and include members of your family too

3) Make sure you donÂ’t skip meals out of business, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly

4) Approach Christmas with a positive outlook – don’t let yourself think it will be a nightmare, focus on the best things about the festive period instead. That positivity will communicate itself to others around you

5) Take some ‘me’ time – take a bit of time just to relax, unwind and indulge yourself for a few minutes during the day

About the Wrigley Company

The Wrigley Company is the worldÂ’s leading manufacturer of chewing and bubblegum and a major player in the confectionery industry worldwide.

Some of Wrigley’s most famous brands include Wrigley’s Extra®, Airwaves®, Orbit®, Juicy Fruit®, Wrigley’s Spearmint®, Doublemint® and Hubba Bubba®. Wrigley is committed to diversifying close to home and recently launched its first non-gum products for over one hundred years – Extra™ Thin Ice™ and Extra™ Mints.

About Professor Cary Cooper

Cary L. Cooper is Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University and the author of numerous scholarly articles and books on stress (e.g. Creating a Balance: Managing Stress, London: The British Library Press). He is also President of the International Stress Management Association and BACP.