Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Stress, anxiety and depression


Stress, anxiety and depression

Articles about the Stress - Anxiety - Depression cycle, and how to avoid and cope with these problems.

When it comes to doing nothing, we seem to be separated into two different groups, those that are really good at it, monks and lazy teenagers for example, and those who are terrible at it, like high achievers and the overly conscientious.

I'm guessing that if you're reading this, you fall into the latter category. You've been guilted into over-working by the Protestant work ethic, even though we might not even know what that is. The Protestant work ethic says that hard work, self-discipline and being frugal will earn you a place in heaven, whereas lolling around in a haystack just passing the time will surely earn you a ticket to the 'bad place', which is the main reason we all work so hard these days.

But there's a good argument both philosophical and scientific, that says spending downtime doing nothing can be extremely good for you and make you more productive. The Dutch have a word for it, niksen.

Man showing stress of Christmas

It's not just family friction that causes problems at Xmas.

Family issues are still there for many (here's more about coping with Christmas), but that's not the only Xmas related problem. Take the word Xmas. As you read this, you might be fuming that I even used the shortened form of the word. Yet the early Christians used it frequently. Here's what Grammarly has to say:

"Chi (or X) is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ. In the early days of the Christian church, Christians used the letter X as a secret symbol to indicate their membership in the church to others. If you know the Greek meaning of X, Xmas and Christmas essentially mean the same thing: Christ + mas = Christmas."

Thanks, Grammarly. Hopefully that's one problem out of the way.

Next, there are dietary problems. If you're a vegan or a vegetarian, the food at Christmas is a nightmare. It's a meat-lovers paradise, and even the Christmas pudding has suet (beef fat) in it. To alleviate dietary stress, here are a few tips. Be assertive; kindly and firmly stick to your nutritional choices. Bring your own, including a slice of Xmas pudding; if they love you, they won't mind. If it's a serve-yourself, you're home and hosed. Hog the roast potatoes and veggies (they're usually cooked in vegetable oil these days), and there's always bread.

This is not a list of stress management techniques (you'll find that here), this is about how to plan a strategy to manage your stress and how to implement it.

Having a strategy means more than meditating or doing a relaxation exercise. It sets out your intentions – what you intend to do about your stress, including some of the things on those lists of techniques.

When you are stressed, your ability to think, remember, make decisions and concentrate are compromised, so having a plan keeps you on track.

Stressed couple arguing over their budget

Stress affects us all from individuals to towns/suburbs to cities to countries.

In Australia there are any number of statistics indicating the cost of excessive stress to individuals, the community, the workplace and the economy. They are brain-boggling. Here are just a few ...

  • 35 percent of Australians report having a significant level of distress in their lives (over one third).
  • Just over seven in ten Australians (72%) reported that current stress was having at least some impact on physical health, with almost one in five (17%) reporting that current stress was having a strong to very strong impact on physical health.
  • Over three in four (78%) young adults reported that current stress was having at least some impact on mental health with 26% reporting that their current stress was having a strong to very strong impact on mental health.
  • Financial issues (49%) and family issues (45%) remain the leading causes of stress amongst Australians.

-- Australian Psychological Society

  • Workplace stress is costing the economy 14.81 billion dollars a year.
  • Stress related presentation and absenteeism are costing Australian employers 10.11 billion dollars a year.
  • 3.2 days per year per worker are lost each year through workplace stress.

-- Medibank