People today are so stressed out in the extended run up to Christmas that they’re overwhelmed and exhausted when the day itself arrives, according to a new research from Klarna, a Swedish payment company. As a result of stress, 1 in 10 are tempted to cancel Christmas altogether, whilst 1 in 6 want to go on holiday to escape the festive frenzy, and it’s shopping which is the major cause.

While it should be a period of fun and continuous happiness, 21% of people said that their happiest point during the festive season is when it’s all over. Do you feel the same? 1 in 12 have previously gone on holiday over Christmas to get away from it all – and a significant 1 in 6 have wished they could follow suit.

How come shopping is turning Christmas down? An average of 7 online retailers, 11 street shops and an exhausting 7.2 hours Christmas shopping contribute to feeling overwhelmed and to blame for heightened Christmas stress levels.

A fifth of the people questioned said finding perfect gifts was the biggest cause of stress, whilst for a quarter, it was crowds in stores. The result? More than a quarter (27%) have previously walked out of a shop in frustration. The final result? More than half (57%) of people surveyed have been stuck (previous years) with unwanted gifts they couldn’t return; socks, kitchen utensils and ill-chosen underwear were named as some of the most unwanted gifts.

A bit of science now. Psychologist and behavioural expert Honey Langcaster-James explains: “We used to confine festivities to a more traditional and modest ‘twelve days of Christmas’ but now the season begins immediately after Halloween and extends over a long period full of preparation, organisation and celebration. This increases the sense of responsibility to make Christmas a big event and takes its toll on our emotional wellbeing. There’s a huge amount of pressure to make sure the run up to Christmas and the day itself are absolutely perfect.

When it comes to all the preparation involved, having to battle the crowds, stand in long queues and increased spending can all impact upon people’s moods and stress levels, so finding a way to reduce stress and combat the pressure is key to making it through the festive season without becoming too emotionally frazzled”.

And researchers. Luke Griffiths, UK General Manager at Klarna which commissioned the research, concludes: “Gift shopping for family and friends should be a pleasure, not a chore. But for many, the pressure we feel this time of year is getting the better of us, and Christmas cheer is being replaced by Christmas fear. With careful planning, buying online and making the most of flexible payment options, Christmas shopping can become one less stress for busy people this year.”

Happy holidays!