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Because stress is affecting lots of Australian workers. Workcover statistics that show stress claims are on the rise and those most at risk are people working in professional and semi-professional ranks – particularly those who deal with other people such as community workers and health care workers. Stress costs more than $50 million pa and accounted for 5.4 % of overall claims in 1998-99, compared with 2.7% 10 years earlier. The upward trend has continued despite a tightening of the eligibility criteria in 1994-95 that stipulated that work had to be a significant factor in the complaint, rather than aspects of the worker’s personal life.

Stress overload can flare during a crisis – even a welcome circumstance such as getting a promotion, or less dramatically, it can creep into the bones of someone who is exhausted by weeks, months or even years of being overloaded. “Too much stress can lead a person to become anxious and extreme stress can wear down even the most resilient person to the point where they develop an actual problem with anxiety. When someone is in a severe situation and are unable to escape or get support, they can cross the line.” Dr Erica Frydenberg, a clinical and organisational psychologist at the University of Melbourne.

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Anxiety of sufficient strength to warrant a medical diagnosis affects 1 in 10 adults, that is nearly 1.3 million people – females are affected twice as much as males. More than 2.7 million work days are lost annually when people cannot perform their usual activities because of disabling anxiety, according

THE CHALLENGE … the key to managing stress The key to managing stress is to use the “fight or flight” response to prepare to embrace and excel. We can use our adrenaline rush to fuel positive action. And we can use our emotions as signals to tell us what is wrong with our life so that we can take action to change it. Are we at the whim of history and biology ?. Certainly not. Stress management is about finding a level of stress with which you feel comfortable and enacting strategies of thought and action to keep yourself there. So, next week we will do the Quiz to see how you doing in making lifestyle choices to help manage stress. Hopefully, we may be able to identify some lifestyle strategies to build your resistance to stress that you would enjoy building into your life.

As people are different, stress that may intimidate one person can invigorate and challenge another. What seems to matter is whether the individual in the stressful situation believes that they have the resources to cope, to maintain a sense of control. This is particularly so with adults who have a developed sense of their own autonomy and may explain why so often people do not seek help until they are on the brink of a ‘stress breakdown’. The problem is that when it’s easier to salvage, people are soldiering on and are not so willing to talk about it.

STRESS – AN INTERACTIVE RESPONSE

Personality: Personality style can relate to susceptibility to stress related illness such as heart attack and stroke, as with stress Type ‘A’ people. For people who obsess about achieving or if we notice ourselves becoming a bit of a perfectionist, ask this simple question “Would it really be the end of the world if you made a mistake?”. Biological: Sensitive temperament – these people are sensitive, nervous and easily hyped up and can be over sensitive to the expectations of others. A sense of control can be an important issue. However, sensitivity can have advantages; these people are more aware of their own emotions and are able to sympathise with other people’s emotions. (Professor Ron Rapee).

Social Factors: situations may ‘trigger’ existing potential Life History: Internal Resources: This trend is supported by to last year’s National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing Report. Mental health is enhanced by situations that promote personal control. For example, men in jobs characterised by high demand and low control were at twice the risk for heart attacks in comparison to men of the same age (40-50 years) who were employed in jobs where they felt they felt more control.

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