It will come as no surprise to most people that as a society we are becoming increasingly stressed.
This was confirmed by the Australian Psychological Society which released a survey in 2013 showing Australians that year reported significantly lower levels of wellbeing and significantly higher levels of stress and distress than in 2012 and 2011.
The survey showed some 73 per cent of Australians said stress was having an impact on their lives with 17 per cent confirming it was having a strong to very strong impact on their physical health.
On top of that, 65 per cent of respondents said stress was affecting their mental health; 20 per cent saying it had a strong to very strong impact on their mental health.
People tend to experience stress when they feel they cannot cope with the demands being made on them. However, there is no single benchmark for stress levels and what may stress one person a lot may have little impact on another.
It is important to note also that stress is not always a negative thing and the reality is that some people perform better under stress.
However, when we use the term ‘stress’ in a clinical sense, it refers to a situation that results in discomfort and distress for a person and can lead to other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
It may also contribute to physical illness such as cardiovascular disease.
Preventing stress is of course better that treating it once you have it and there are a number of steps you can stake to avoid or minimise stress in your life.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise is a proven method of helping to manage stress.
- Avoid conflict: Avoid situations that make you feel stressed such as unnecessary arguments and conflict.
- Relax: Take time to relax each day.
- Eat well: A healthy diet is an important tool in combating stress.
- Sleep: A good sleep routine is critical.
- Enjoy your life: Make time to have some fun and to get a balance in your life.
It is important to take steps to be able to identify warning signs that reveal you are getting stressed as well as recognising situations that trigger excessive stress.
You may also need to seek the help of a health professional and a good place to start is your community pharmacy, where many pharmacists have undertaken a special mental health course designed specifically to assist patients in the pharmacy and provide advice in managing stress.