Stress has become a regular part of our fast-paced lives. When a person is exposed to prolonged stress without coping mechanisms, it can meaningfully impact both physical and mental health. There are two major types of stress. They are:
  • Acute stress: Stress that we may feel related to a specific situation, like meeting a deadline or finishing a task.
  • Chronic stress: Prolonged stress which is constant and impacts a person more broadly.

What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Stress?

In the 2021 Work Shouldn’t Hurt survey1 1 in 5 Australian workers said they suffered a mental health issue due to work. According to research conducted by Headspace and the National Union of Students, 83% of Australian students felt stressed in the past 12 months. Prolonged stress often leads to conditions such as anxiety, panic disorder, or physical health deterioration. Some of the symptoms of chronic stress include:
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Uneasy stomach
  • Tense muscles and constant headaches
  • Sensitive skin resulting in acne breakouts.
  • Hair loss
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Lessened immunity
  • Lessened sexual interest
  • Fertility issues
  • High blood pressure which could lead to heart disease.
  • Substance abuse or alcohol dependence
  • Mood changes, having uncontrollable emotions such as sadness or anger.
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Feeling on edge, thoughts of self-harm

What Are The Hidden Costs Of Stress?

Stress tolerance is different for different people. Where one person can handle a situation, another person may find it very stressful. It is important to be empathetic, considerate and understand that no two people are the same. Many factors lead to chronic stress such as divorce, death, disease, financial worries, work-related stress, relationships, fertility issues, childbirth and more. According to a survey from the Australian Psychological Society, young adults (18-25 years of age) are under pressure and mental stress to maintain a healthy lifestyle and finances. Stress at work could be caused by long hours at work, conflicts, unable to manage the workload and more. There are many hidden costs to chronic stress which should not be ignored such as:
  • Healthcare expenses: Often stress-related burnout will lead to physical and mental injury which in turn increases the healthcare expenses and the load on the healthcare system.
  • Workplace productivity: Stress can lead to decreased workplace productivity, absenteeism, and increased employee turnover.
  • Strained relationships.
  • Behavioural coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or alcohol dependence.
  • Reduced quality of life.

How To Deal With Stress And Achieve Balance?

Prevention is better than cure when managing stress. There are many ways to deal with stress before it becomes chronic. They include:
  • Managing a healthy diet & daily exercise
  • Learning deep breathing and relaxation techniques
  • Building a support system at home, school, or the workplace
  • Taking a day off when things are too stressful: Stress leave or mental health leave in Australia allows employees to take a day off when they are feeling overwhelmed and underproductive. This comes under the personal leave category and the employee can submit a medical certificate for the same.
  • If chronic stress develops into a mental health condition such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, or a substance abuse disorder, it is important to consult a doctor
  • Mental Health Awareness: Initiatives like “R U OK?” and “Beyond Blue” raise awareness about mental health issues and encourage open conversations about stress, anxiety, and depression.
Balancing stress is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness and commitment. While it is impossible to eliminate stress entirely, raising awareness, providing access to mental health resources, and fostering a culture of support and understanding can help individuals better manage and balance the stressors in their lives. Remember that it’s okay to seek help when needed and prioritise self-care to navigate life’s challenges with resilience and well-being.

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Disclaimer

This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. For emergencies please immediately contact 000.