14.11.11 Stress levels rising for anxious Aussies

14.11.11 Stress levels rising for anxious Aussies

New research shows stressed-out Australians are losing sleep over money-related matters and many can’t see their anxiety being curbed any time soon.

A Newspoll commissioned by Nutra-Life Organic Magnesium has revealed that four in ten Australians are more stressed than this time last year and 70% can see their anxiety levels being the same or even worse in a year’s time.

The online survey of more than 1200 Australians aged 18-64, showed that women are marginally more likely to admit to being stressed and those in the younger age groups, particularly 18 to 24 year olds, are much more likely to believe they will be more stressed in the future.

By far the major source of stress is money-related matters, affecting 84% of respondents, and 79% of workers said their job is a source of anxiety, with work-life balance proving to be a concern for 72%.

Sleep deprivation was the most common by-product of stress identified by the Newspoll survey. Three out of four respondents (77%) had trouble sleeping because of stress, a similar number (73%) reported a lack of energy, and 68% had trouble concentrating.

Australian naturopath and stress expert Lisa Guy said the by-products of stress compound the issue, with lack of sleep and concentration difficulties creating a vicious circle.

“When you are faced with a stressful situation, you go into what’s called “fight or flight” mode. Your body starts pumping out adrenalin which at first helps provide you with energy and makes you feel more alert. But when stress is ongoing, the coping capacity of the biological systems designed to help you deal with the pressure become impaired and a negative spiral ensues.

“Restlessness, lack of energy, weakened immunity, cardiovascular problems and anxiety are all linked to stress,” she said.

One Aussie trying to tackle the problem head on is singer/songwriter Candice Alley, who said the everyday stresses of juggling a career, caring for her children and supporting her loving husband, swimming legend Grant Hackett, can sometimes be difficult to manage.

“Life can be overwhelming at times and pushing to be the best in everything you do, at work and at home, can create anxiety, especially if you’re giving one hundred per cent to each area and sometimes wondering if you’re making headway,” Alley said.

“I found myself getting wound up over the big picture while sweating over the smallest of things and took it upon myself to create a more stress-free environment and become calmer.”

Alley now mixes exercise, such as pilates and park runarounds with her toddler twins, with the serenity she finds in song-writing and music, and a daily dose of Nutra-Life Organic Magnesium, a natural supplement that helps alleviate stress and worry.

“I did my research and found that magnesium plays a crucial role in energy production and is necessary for almost every major biological process, so I thought I’d give it a shot and see if it was as calming as I’d read.”

Alley has become a fan.

“I understand the science, that prolonged stress depletes magnesium from the body and the right amount has a calming effect on the central nervous system,” Alley said. “I can’t categorically say that the extra magnesium is countering the effects of adrenalin and other stress hormones, but I can confidently say I’m more energetic and able to cope with life’s daily demands.

“I feel comfortable taking a natural product rather than a pharmaceutical one, and have certainly been sleeping better and loving life that little bit more.”

Like Candice, Lisa Guy advocates a holistic approach to overcoming stress and anxiety.

“There are a range of measures you can take to help address your stress – diet, exercise and taking time to identify the stress factors in your life are all important. If you can ascertain the cause of the stress, you can then effectively identify how it can be prevented,” she said.

“Massive workloads and bullying are major sources of work stress. Look at whether you are managing your time effectively, find out if there are other resources that could be supporting you and in the event of bullying, make sure you speak with your co-workers or supervisors, your HR department or union.”

Lisa Guy said that when you are unable to alter the source of stress, bolstering your personal resources is necessary.

“Adequate exercise is necessary to burn off unused energy and it can help clear the mind. Good nutrition is also important to ensure sufficient energy to cope with demands, and to replace nutrients consumed during stress coping. Herbal teas, a magnesium supplement, exposure to sunlight and support from friends and family is also really helpful.”