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Introduction

Last Christmas, Relationships Australia examined the effect of Christmas stress on family relationships in our two-minute online monthly survey.  The questions were developed based on our practice experience and prior research that identifies the Christmas period as a time of high stress for some families.

Christmas is the most likely time of the year for many people to experience anxiety and depression, particularly those who are divorced, have experienced a death in the family or are socially isolated.  Increased stress over the Christmas period can be associated with financial and time pressure from the costs of buying gifts, entertaining and holidays, and managing competing work-family tensions.  There can be added strain from spending time with family members, and it also may represent the time that people negatively reflect on another lost year.  Those people living in separated, blended or stepfamilies can face significant challenges in managing complex family structures and contact arrangements with children.

While preparing for Christmas may be stressful in itself, causal factors commonly associated with poor mental health at other times of the year are also more prevalent in the Christmas period.  These include relationship breakdown, workplace stress, and financial pressures.

Relationships Australia sought to further explore the effect of Christmas stress on family relationships by asking visitors to our website to participate in the December 2015 two minute survey.  December’s questions focussed on how visitors to our website celebrate Christmas and family conflict.

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites