Many of Australia’s successful professionals look like they have it all, but with long working hours, constant deadlines and high stakes, they feel stressed to their limits. Stress – whether occupational, relational or emotional – is a significant contributor to a lack of feelings of contentment and diminished wellbeing, as evidenced by research [i].
A study from 2015 [ii]highlighted the negative effects of everyday stress on a person’s physical health and emotional wellbeing. Participants reported a huge variation in concentration, interest and psychomotor skills during a period of high emotional or occupational stress. As expected, there were also noticeable changes in feelings of fatigue, appetite and sleep disturbance.
Peter Hayton is the senior psychologist and Clinical Director at The Banyans Health and Wellness. “At first, having stress around isn’t a bad thing for most people: it encourages us to complete our necessary tasks,” Peter suggests. “But having outstayed it’s welcome, stress can be like an unwanted companion that you can’t quite get rid of. It is holding you back, using up your resources, and sabotaging your life.”
Further, Peter explains how some people describe feeling stressed as being like experiencing a different persona, in which they are not their “real self”. Rather, they feel like they become someone who is easily aggravated, distracted and emotionally distant from their friends, colleagues and loved ones. When the stress is prolonged, these traits may eventually begin to feel embedded in their personality. “Unfortunately, this often leads to relational difficulties, work tension and can lead people to feel like they are slipping out of control in many areas of life.”
“It is not a coincidence that the symptoms reported by the participants in the study are also major indicators of burnout or perhaps high functioning depression,” reflects Peter. This is supported by statistics reporting that the incidence of depression is up to 7 times more likely in groups experiencing serious or prolonged stressors [iii].
“For many men in particular, a busy and highly demanding lifestyle combined with social stigma can lead them to neglect their own self-care,” Peter says. “Therefore, some people are struggling in silence, believing that many of their symptoms are normal or perhaps not important enough for professional help.”
The World Health Organisation quotes that mental health conditions such as mania and mood disturbance affect over three million people globally, and over a third of those experiencing such conditions are male.
“Burnout, stress and difficulties controlling anger or frustration are extremely prevalent, especially with males. Each is an extreme variation of our natural psychological responses,” Peter offers. “These are areas of our lives where the right therapeutic and social support can foster some powerful change,” he encourages.
It is important to be proactive about seeking support as stress can sabotage a healthy mind and body. For example:
- Lack of sleep inhibits your body’s natural recovery processes, and has been shown to contribute to a variety of follow on effects such as high blood pressure, headaches and unregulated hormone production;
- Poor diet or appetite means that you are not receiving the nutrients you need to fuel your mind and body – resulting in reduced concentration, lethargy and physical discomfort;
- Decreased focus or concentration can threaten your safety as you go about your life and work, but will also impair your job performance, patience for others and motivation to engage in activities;
- Emotional sensitivity is a common indicator that we are feeling fatigued. Often this is reflected in feeling angry, irritable or impatient, which can contribute to relational or occupational difficulties;
- Some people can search for escape mechanisms such as alcohol or illicit drugs to numb the looming pressure or help them relax at the end of the day. Ultimately, these do not provide satisfaction, and can have extremely detrimental health effects – such as impaired liver function, heart damage and reduced metabolic processing.
The good news is that you don’t need to sacrifice your success in order to restore your health and wellness. “It is more than possible to find a healthy balance in your life,” reassures Peter. “You have worked so hard to get to where you are and you deserve to enjoy the benefits of your labour and effort – not be sabotaged by stress.”
The Banyans Health and Wellness is a residential retreat for high performing professionals who desire the fulfilment of life again. Located in the surrounds of South East Queensland, our luxury facility is highly confidential, with highly qualified physicians and mental health professionals. If you would like to step out of the shadow of stress and fatigue, begin investing in yourself by submitting an non-obligatory enquiry below, or calling our team on +61 1300 BANYAN (+61 1300 226 926) or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
[iii]Moore, S., Sikora, P., Grunberg, L. and Greenberg, E. (2007). Expanding the Tension-Reduction Model of Work Stress and Alcohol Use: Comparison of Managerial and Non-Managerial Men and Women. Journal of Management Studies, 44(2), pp.261-283.