Wellbeing and stress, for the past five years the Australian Psychological Society (APS) has conducted a national survey in Australia to map our statistics. Sadly the survey delivered late 2015, indicated that Australians have a lower ranking of overall wellbeing and higher ranking for stress, anxiety and depression then when the survey commenced.
I will cover the top 5: causes, most popular ways of managing, and the most destructive habits that people fall into when stressed.
The top 5 causes of stress (lack of wellbeing) are:
- Finances – 49%
- Family – 45%
- Health – 44 %
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle – 40%
- Health of loves ones – 38%
NB: it was interesting to see that career/work life was not incorporated in the overview, current statistics for stress in the workplace are 1 in 4 people, I will look at this in a separate article next month.
The 5 most destructive habits people engage in when stressed (I have averaged over the categories):
- Alcohol – 61%, a couple of drinks now and then when relaxing or socialising is ok, but when your consumption becomes the means of forgetting and blocking out what is going on in your life, or is the only way you can socialise and be happy, then it is destructive. I have worked with many people to overcome their issues with alcohol. The first step is to admit there is a problem, the second you need a desire to change, and lastly reach out and get the help that you need.
- Gambling – 50%, there is concern about the increase in the number of people turning to gambling. As a personal observation the numbers are aligned to the number 1 top cause of stress – Finances, from working with people who gamble one of the key motivators is to make life financially easier, sadly it regularly makes the financial situation worse.
- Smoking Cigarettes – 42%, I have not worked with one smoker who has not believed that smoking helps them manage stress. Some facts about smoking: It increases your heart rate, raises your blood pressure and increases the production of stomach acid. Now I have to ask, do any of these sound like they would be calming and soothing? It is what we tell ourselves that we come to believe as true, even though it isn’t.
- Recreational Drugs – 38%, there is no other way to say it, recreational drugs give you an altered state of reality and take you away from being present and living your life. I have personally seen the impact that an abuse of drugs can have on an individual, their family, friends and colleagues, it is devastating. If this is something you do every day or weekend, then you may have a problem, there is something in life that you are avoiding / not dealing with. Can I please encourage you to seek help.
- Eating – I was interested to see that this was not included in the ‘key findings’ of the study. I say this as every person I see for weight management, abuses food to manage some form of stress in their life.
The 5 most popular ways of managing stress:
- Watching TV/Movies – 85%, my caution here beware of what you are watching. Mainstream media has been shown time and time again to add to people’s stress levels.
- Focusing on the positives – 81%, fantastic, add some gratitude journaling and you have a great tool.
- Spending time with friends and family – 81%, again another great way, however I ask you to consider; do these people pick you up or assist you in staying down? The last thing you need is the company of others that allow and encourage you to wallow in the not so happy things in life. Talking it out – fantastic, but you must then move on.
- Listening to music – 80%, music is such an integral part of life and is one of the things I do daily. I do encourage you to be aware of the lyrics you are listening to, as they do have an impact not only at a conscious level but subconsciously. So if you are having issues in a relationship and are listening to heart break songs of love and loss, trust me, it is not helpful.
- Reading – 75%, another great way to help. A good novel is a great way to escape, but beware that your escapism does not become a habit. Mix up your reading material, add some personal development and things of interest into the equation and you will be on the right track.
If you want to read the full report https://www.psychology.org.au/psychologyweek/survey/ it is 44 pages in total. One of the areas that may be of interest is the impact of social media, and the ‘fear of missing out’ syndrome. As with a lot of things, social media is seen as both a cause of stress and a way of managing stress – as always it comes down to the content that is being viewed and the type of interaction being engaged in.
If you have teenagers, it may be worth reading this study and then discussing the findings with them. 56% of teenagers are what the APS consider ‘heavy’ users. So it may be worth assessing with your teenagers the content they are viewing and what impact it could be having on them.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything noted in this blog, please feel free to contact me.