Christmas is considered one of the six most stressful life events, along with divorce, moving to a new house and changing jobs.
A Relationships Australia study also found that family relations are highly negatively affected at Christmas due to work-life balance factors for 31 per cent of men and 33 of women.
So, what causes Christmas stress and how can we reduce it in our lives and for the people around us?
The root of Christmas stress is different for every individual and family.
Liz Winston is part of the VMCH Mission Team, and she says that a big part of their role during Christmas is supporting people that are struggling.
These are people who may be dealing with a loss, separation from loved ones, illness, stress, financial problems, loneliness and social isolation.
“These problems do not disappear during Christmas and in many ways, the holidays can have a bit of a magnifying effect for the struggles that people are dealing with,” she said.
“Parents that are struggling financially may feel guilt that they can’t buy their kids the things they want for Christmas, or they put themselves into more debt to do this.
“Older people may be in aged care and miss a partner that has passed away. They may not be able to celebrate Christmas the way they used to.”
Liz says that lending an ear can make a big difference.
“Sometimes we want to give people the answers, to fix it: ‘you’ll be alright, don’t worry’. These things don’t actually help,” she said.
“It’s not usually about having the answer. It can be as simple as sitting with them and acknowledging, ‘yeah, that must be tough for you’.”
She would love to see more people take the time to look around them and support people who are doing it a bit tough around Christmas.
“When we talk about things it helps lift some of that burden. It doesn’t take it away, but it helps lift some of the burden.”
She even has some tips on how to do that.
“My advice to people is that it’s not always about having the answer, it’s just listening to their story.”