Even when there isn’t a global pandemic, stress is very real for Australians.
NAB has been releasing quarterly Australian Wellbeing Survey reports for the last 7 years.
Consistently, the biggest drains on wellbeing are, social media, substance use, violence, feeling time-poor, low quality sleep, and particularly financial distress and loneliness.
Conversely, the factors supporting wellbeing include pet ownership (yes this is at the top!), personal safety, healthy relationships, standard of living, having a sense of community, faith, mental wellbeing and physical health.
According to the Australian Psychological Society Stress and Wellbeing in Australia survey (2015), people who report higher levels of distress, as well as anxiety and depression, are also more likely to gamble, smoke cigarettes, drink more alcohol, take recreational drugs and overeat. Not only may this increase financial stress, but it also takes a toll on physical health.
Stress is a normal part of life, it can actually be motivating. But life is a bit easier if you know how to manage your stress healthily.
It’s always fun to have a bit of a conversation about it, so we asked our EPs how they manage their stress.
Carmyn Barnes – Christchurch, NZ
I plan my day (my diary is my everything – old school handwritten, not my phone) and write down everything that needs to be done, even my training.
I always allocate a tiny bit more time needed for each task so that I don’t run over time.
Exercise is my other way of dealing with stress – work up a sweat or my fave: get in the pool (that also helps when I’ve been around people the whole day/week because I can switch off from people during a swim 😊)
Mae Heard – Exercise Physiologist, Auckland, NZ
When I’m feeling stressed I dedicate 10 mins of self-reflection every night and every morning to download and reload and to prioritise what tasks are important and what needs most energy, followed by 10 minutes of meditation and breathing (using an app called Serenity).
I also ensure I go for a brisk walk and listen to some podcasts. Eat a super healthy meal with loads of veggies and drink plenty of water- Ill at least feel good about looking after myself in times of stress.
Tessa Nielsen – Exercise Physiologist, Palmerston North, NZ
I meditate (I use ‘calm’), write a list, have a phone-free hour (or 2), do an intense exercise session – or (most of the time actually) clean/organise things excessively (it works! 😂)
Yolanda Van Vugt – Auckland, NZ
For general day to day stress management, I try to do 5-10 minutes of mindful breathing, using an app called Let’s Meditate. And I practise gratitude every morning to start my day in a calm and positive way. I have a little ‘morning positivity’ sheet that I fill out (Today I am grateful for … Today I am excited for … My intention for today is…) and then I follow up with the breathing (sometimes with a mantra / positive affirmation thrown in too).
For the “I’m about to explode” type of stress, nothing better than smashing out a short fast run to burn off all the negative energy and frustrations!
Lauren Teitzel – Exercise Physiologist, Wellington, NZ
To manage stress I write lists, ordering the things in priority of needing completion.
I get a sense of satisfaction and ‘relief’ each time I can cross something off.
Also exercise is a big one. Nothing like switching off for an hour as you sweat it out!
Shara Kinney – Exercise Physiologist, South-west Sydney
To manage stress I get everything out of my head by writing it down, kind of like mind mapping, it helps organise my thoughts and know what I need to get done most urgently etc.
Exercise is my favourite way to relieve stress… I find after a little sweat out things are a lot more balanced in my head. I’m loving the Centr app right now.
Chantelle Wardini – Exercise Physiologist & Dietician, NorWest Sydney, NSW
Exercise! Even if I don’t feel like it, I know that even after 20 min of moving, the rest of the day feels so much easier.
This works the best when I break it up into small bits of exercise and do it proactively when I know I’m going to have a stressful time of day, e.g. 10 minutes of walking first thing helps me to manage all my flood of emails/phone calls to get through…a 10 minute walk at lunch helps me to get through, my 9 month old, Isla’s, cranky afternoon mood.
Go to work. Work helps me to forget about the stresses of daily life. I can just focus on helping my clients which acts as a good distraction from stress (and feels super rewarding for me) and then I usually go home feeling more refreshed and able to tackle problems.
Cooking and eating something healthy. Creating a healthy meal that nourishes me helps me to refocus.
Hussein Taoube – Exercise Physiologist, Eastern Sydney
My favorite thing to do when stressed is head to the gym and let it all out on the punching bag.
By the end of the session, I’m almost always de-stressed. I’ve also been implementing mindfulness when exercise is not an option.
Anirudh Parthiban – NSW Team Leader and Exercise Physiologist, Norwest Sydney, NSW
At the end of a day I write a to-do list of things that were unresolved that day, or things that need to be done the following day. That way I don’t ruminate about these things when I sleep because I know I’ve got it all written down.
At the end of a workday I like to water the garden or just undo my brain a little by taking part in any mundane and repetitive task like weeding.
If I find myself losing concentration or bogged down with something I like to change scenery and task. If I’m working all day in my room, I change rooms or sit outside for a while, and change the task I was doing.
Frith Maunder – Exercise Physiologist, Toowoomba, QLD
I have a couple ‘go-to’ mindful activities for my stress relief.
I like hanging out with my animals (I have chooks, guinea pigs and a dog), gardening, and cooking with a good soundtrack and a glass of wine especially when I have no kids in the house!
Biara Webster – Exercise Physiologist and Content Manager
I’m beginning to suspect that my whole life is based around stress management 🤣
But in all honesty, it’s probably more the fact that I notice I higher resilience within myself when I have a better work life balance and healthy lifestyle. Funny that!
So I make an effort to have a life outside of work, whether that’s switching off with a book (fiction), colouring-in, life drawing, sudoku, little hikes and the occasional jig saw puzzle or trumpet blow.
I prioritise a healthy lifestyle through nutritious food, starting the day with a little “wake up walk,” daily exercise, meditation, minimal time on social media, sound sleep hygiene and occasionally remembering to socialise.
To tackle increasing stress I prioritise a workout or swim combined with meditation, reach out to a friend, try to practise gratitude, have a bubble bath and some tea, go for a walk and listen to a podcast or audio book, or a long “mindful walk” (noticing as much little, beautiful, things as possible- ants, flowers, clouds, bark), listening to a podcast/audiobook, or sing along to my favourite songs.
If you are overwhelmed with stress remember to speak to you GP, consider seeing a counsellor or psychologist, or call or text LifeLine.