We’re stressed and a lack of sleep is the main culprit

Study pinpoints lack of sleep as the main problem.

We’re more stressed than ever

Stress levels tend to rise for many people in the weeks before Christmas. There is probably shopping to do, presents to buy, budget worries, concerns about family gatherings, dishes to cook.

Medibank research shows that we are more stressed than ever before, with the number of Australians affected rising from 3.7 million in 2007–08 to more than 4.9 million in 2016–17.

The main culprit is a lack of sleep – reported by 44 per cent of respondents. Other leading factors include juggling too many things (36 per cent) and pressures at work (39 per cent). Wider economic, societal and political issues were also common, with housing affordability (17 per cent), pressures from social media (12 per cent) and the global political climate (11 per cent) causing stress for many.

A majority of those surveyed reported that stress not only affected their sleep (62 per cent), but also their social relationships. Fifty two per cent admitted they became irritable with loved ones and colleagues, 36 per cent felt reluctant to take part in social activities and 18 per cent felt they were unable to be ‘there’ for family members, due to the stress they were experiencing.

The research found that those affected by stress were more likely to suffer from mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and panic attacks, when compared with the general population.

And while there’s still much to learn about the link between stress and the immune system, reports suggest the body’s ability to fight off infection may be lowered by ongoing stress, and that the incidence of headaches may be higher among those experiencing stress.

Medibank Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan said: “It’s essential we do everything we can to take care of our mental wellbeing, and continue to look out for one another as we enter a new year.

“While stress in some circumstances can be normal, we know that if left untreated, persistent stress can contribute to the onset of certain mental health conditions, or exacerbate them.

“And while the findings do indicate a potential link between stress and some physical health conditions, external studies have not identified a causal relationship here, and therefore more research is required to determine whether stress could be having an impact on certain physical health conditions.”

The Medibank report suggests the following tips for a less stressful year:

1. Get moving
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve mood. Aim for around 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day – this could be anything from walking to going to the gym.

2. Connect with others
Talking and connecting with people with similar experiences can help you get into a good headspace.

3. Practice mindfulness
Breathing exercises, meditation and other relaxation techniques can help to manage some of the symptoms of stress. You can also practise mindfulness with the help of handy meditation apps.

4. Get support
If you’re struggling to manage your stress, it’s important to seek support, whether it’s from a friend, loved one or medical professional.

If you need help, contact the beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636 or speak to your GP.

Are you able to manage your stress? Do you find that your stress levels jump during the Christmas and/or New Year period?


    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    21st Dec 2018
    The main cause of stress is brain dead politicians making stupid changes to retirement planning this applies to both parties.Just leave things alone and if changes have to be done grandfather the bloody things . Many thanks to the good people that work so hard on this site their advice is a great help.
    21st Dec 2018
    I agree with you, Floss.
    22nd Dec 2018
    agree with you, floss
    21st Dec 2018
    Have a good one Triss.
    21st Dec 2018
    Thanks, Floss, you too.

    22nd Dec 2018
    Stress is a natural and understandable reaction to the very real threats and loss of quality of life, primarily stemming from the overpopulation and ruthless diversification at all costs for the 'Big Australia' that very people except entrepreneurs and the big end of town want to have and benefit from.

    I had to move from my previous, once peaceful and idyllic suburb because like so many other residents we were being taxed out of existence and quite deliberately forced out by government that wanted intensive housing and freeways through it instead. Local government had no choice but to play catch-up with masses of expensive infrastructure that destroyed the suburbs and ramped up council rates and electricity and water prices.

    Yet the older voters especially remain as divided as ever, swallowing the divisive, self-serving spin that drives wedges through society form of both sides of politics at State and federal levels. Now the town and city councils are becoming hotbeds of party politics and corruption is rife.

    My grandmother's generation was the last allowed to afford to live out their days in the home in which they raised their children and with the friends and other supports offered by familiar surroundings.

    Paying out PM more than the US president and huge annual increases to other politicians and their countless advisers has ensured that unprincipled, egocentric, 'me first' career politicians bloom like weeds in Canberra and that has flowed down through State and now Local government.

    22nd Dec 2018
    First sentence, last para should be, 'Paying our PM ...'
    22nd Dec 2018
    5. Eat well and keep hydrated, looking after your health helps you cope with stress.

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