A recent poll conducted for Lifeline's Stress Down Day revealed the nation's physical and emotional wellbeing is at an all-time low, with one in two Australians experiencing unhealthy levels of stress.
With close to 7.7 million Australians spending up to a third of their waking lives at work, workplace-related stress is of key concern. More than a fifth of Australian employees work 48 hours or more per week and 60 per cent don't take their holiday leave regularly1.
Job-stress related depression costs the Australian economy an estimated $730 million annually - approximately $11.8 billion over the average working lifetime2.
In light of these damning statistics, Lifeline is calling on both employees and employers to get behind its national health and wellbeing fundraiser, Stress Down Day, on Friday 22 July.
Stress Down Day encourages participants to de-stress at work or school to help raise money to enhance Lifeline's local services and support its 24-hour crisis telephone support service (13 11 14), which helps more than 1,250 people every day. That's a call every minute, and for some people a call to Lifeline is literally life saving.
Australia's largest privately owned healthcare group, Bupa, is supporting Lifeline to raise awareness of this important issue and encourage all Australians to take stress management more seriously.
Bupa's Health and Wellness Advisor and Lifeline supporter, Guy Leech, says it is essential that all Australians make a concerted effort to tackle stress in the workplace.
Our working lives are becoming more and more demanding, and unfortunately, our 'all work and no play' mentality is having a huge impact on our wellbeing. As a nation, we're extremely hard workers so we need to be smarter about about managing stress to ensure we're not sacrificing our long-term physical and mental health.
Leech encourages all Australian workers to follow his 'stress-busting' tips for the workplace:
- Work smarter, not harder - Good time management skills could help you avoid becoming one of the seven million Australians spending up to a third of their waking lives at work. Being organised, planning ahead, knowing your limits and learning not to over-commit are essential stress-reducing skills to help you get a better work-life balance.
- Get enough sleep - Lack of good quality sleep impairs our work performance by up to 30% as it affects our mental performance and our mood. Bupa research shows that sleep-deprived people report feeling more stressed, sad, angry, mentally exhausted and less optimistic about their lives as a whole.
- Practice self-awareness - We all react differently to stress, but if you're not feeling like your normal self, stop and take note. Some of the tell-tale symptoms of work-related stress may include a drop in work performance, fatigue, headaches, an increase in sick days or lateness and feelings of anxiety.
- Get healthy - Exercise has been proven to help reduce anxiety and exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day may help to combat stress as well as keep you in good shape. Nutrition can also have a big impact so don't skip breakfast, cut back on the caffeine and stock your desk drawer with healthy snacks.
- Find some 'me' time - Find an activity or hobby that you enjoy and make time for it during the week. To prepare yourself for a good night's sleep it's important to do something that relaxes you when you get home from work.
Acting Lifeline CEO, and former Australian Rugby International Joe Roff, says he's extremely concerned by Lifeline's recent stress poll, which told us that Australians are more stressed than ever before:
While a little bit of stress can keep us productive and motivated, prolonged and extreme stress can have a significant, long-term impact on our wellbeing. That's why we want Aussies to take at least one day off from stress and join us this Friday 22 July for Stress Down Day. Dress up, dress down or throw a morning tea together. Regardless of what you choose to do, just take some time to unwind and think about some positive steps you can take to manage and reduce the stress in your life.
Diary Note: Stress Down Day, Friday 22 July 2011. Visit www.stressdown.org.au to get involved.
Matt Alison, Bupa Australia, on 0407 440 212
Janine Smith, Porter Novelli on 0416 039 840
Bupa’s purpose is longer, healthier, happier lives.
A leading international healthcare group, we serve 13 million customers in more than 190 countries. We offer personal and company-financed health insurance and medical subscription products, run hospitals, provide workplace health services, home healthcare, health assessments and chronic disease management services. We are also a major international provider of nursing and residential care for elderly people.
With no shareholders, we invest our profits to provide more and better healthcare and fulfil our purpose.
Bupa employs more than 62,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, New Zealand and the USA, as well as Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, China and across Latin America.
For more information, visit www.bupa.com.