Research reveals Australia’s biggest stressors
● Financial struggles, health and family relationships took the lead as the biggest causes of stress
● Stress induced habits revealed, with binge-watching TV and unhealthy eating the lead culprits
● 2-in-5 Australians report no change in managing stress for the better, after two years of the pandemic
● 50% surprised to learn character play can help reduce stress, with 81% reporting that presentation and how they dress can influence their mood
● To help Aussies lay the smackdown on stress, Medibank Live Better has partnered with Aussie wrestler Shazza McKenzie to create Stressling – a series of easy and safe solo wrestling moves to do in the comfort of home
New research from Medibank has revealed that as people in Australia emerge from the pandemic, many are still struggling to manage stress, with 42% citing no improvement to how they manage stress levels as compared to pre-lockdown.
Speaking to over 1000 Australians, the report investigated the major causes of stress and management techniques. Unsurprisingly, finance and money came in first, followed by personal health, relationships, the pandemic in general, work, reading the news and scrolling through social media.
Other triggers included people losing their phone (32%), with nearly half of Gen Z (43%) and a third of Millennials (34%) citing it as their number one trigger. Total responses showed crowded places (23%) and being stuck in traffic (19%) to follow closely as primary triggers.
Furthermore, the research found that when it came to taking up unhealthy habits to destress, more Aussies were sinking into the couch, with binge watching taking the lead (57%), followed by stress eating (43%), excessive drinking (22%) and online shopping (15%).
The data also revealed that when it came to over drinking, men (26%) were more likely than women (18%) to indulge. On the other hand, women were more likely to turn to online shopping to destress (18%) than men, (11%). Generationally, Gen Zers were most likely to turn to unhealthy eating (58%).
Leading Australian psychologist Noosha Anzab says: “While there’s certainly more optimism that we’re moving into brighter times, there’s a huge number of Aussies who are feeling heightened stress.
“In 2022, we have to remember people are facing their new ‘reality’ post lockdowns, which may include changes in finances, relationships, and work and career.
“Medibank’s research highlights that while many Aussies are still looking to find long-term solutions to de-stress, we’re seeing more people take on a ‘fake it till you make it’ attitude. This includes getting dressed up for the day ahead and channelling a positive mood through character play, which can be hugely beneficial in helping you start the day right – and ultimately another tool to help manage stress.”
Getting ready for the day ahead plays a role in shaping respondents' moods, with over 80% citing that presentation in how they dress could alter their mood for the day. Aussies also showed an interest in the performing arts, with over 24% participating in singing, dancing or character play.
Surprisingly, nearly 20% of respondents reported their stress very frequently manifests into physical symptoms. Of those, anxiety is the leading result (59%), followed by tension headaches (55%), insomnia (43%) and appetite changes (31%). Other symptoms included excessive sweating (20%), muscle tension (14%) and even hair loss (14%).
Australian wrestler Shazza McKenzie is no stranger in using the performing arts to manage stress and build confidence. Partnering with Medibank Live Better, McKenzie has created easy to replicate, solo wrestling moves that can help Aussies manage stress in the comfort of home.
“When I was 16 years old, I started watching professional wrestling and have loved it ever since. My wrestling costume is very much my armour that helps me into character, and once I hear the crowd roar it gives me this unparalleled level of confidence. I honestly feel like I can take on the world.
“It’s been an incredible journey so far and I love hearing stories on how I’ve helped people destress through entertainment. I think people will be fascinated in learning how solo wrestling moves can help release stress triggers from the day – whether it’s slamming a cushion on the ground or squeezing a pillow in a headlock, these moves have been designed to ease both your mind and body.”
When researchers asked respondents whether they would be surprised to learn that character play could help relieve stress, 1-in-2 cited yes, with 30% saying they’d give wrestling a try to experience its benefits of stress relief and building confidence.
Medibank Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan says Australians are still navigating how they manage stress best in a post-pandemic world.
“Stress is normal and something everyone experiences in life. However, when left unmanaged it can become overwhelming and have an impact on our health and wellbeing.”
“When it comes to decreasing stress, the benefits of physical activity are undeniable. Regular exercise – even for just 20-minutes, three times a week – can be highly beneficial for stress management. The key is to find an exercise that works with your lifestyle and most importantly, is one that you enjoy.”
Learn more about Stressling with Medibank, a series of safe and easy to do solo wrestling moves in the comfort of home, here.
Medibank Live Better was created to support Australians on their journey towards a healthier, happier life, with tools to help Aussies eat, move, and feel better. For more information, please visit here. To follow Medibank’s social media channels, please visit Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
About the research
Research commissioned by Pureprofile on behalf of Medibank. Research was conducted in April 2022, among a sample of 1000 Australians aged 18 years and up. Sample split is representative by state and gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates. Calculated via the number of Australians in the labour force reported by the ABS.
Generational cohorts are defined as: Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964), Gen X (1965 – 1980), Millennials (1981 – 1995) and Gen Z (1996 – 2010).
Other Report Findings:
Why Aussies are stressed:
○ Despite self-care being vital for wellness, up to 35% of Aussies don’t schedule activities for stress relief
○ 71% of respondents living in Australian cities regularly scheduled activities for stress relief, whereas only 50% of those living regionally said to regularly schedule activities for stress relief
○ Gen Zers more likely to be affected by physical presentation than any other generation, with 69% claiming it plays a critical / important role in impacting their mood
Ways Aussies relieve stress:
○ listening to music is considered the most effective method for stress relief (24%), followed by quality time with significant others (15%) and low-intensity exercise (14%)
○ Nearly half of respondents (47%) revealed they wouldn’t be surprised by the benefits of character play for stress relief
○ Up to 42% of Gen Zers and 32% of Millennials turn to arts and performance activities
How Aussies are moving:
○ A quarter (25%) to be moving for less than 30 minutes in a working day
○ A quarter of Gen Zers (25%) don’t prioritise taking a break for physical movement within their working day
○ Male respondents were twice as likely to choose running as their exercise of choice for stress relief (12%), than female respondents (6%)
○ Lockdown walks not a thing of the past – with walking the most popular activity for stress relief (53%) since the pandemic began
○ Millennials most likely to enjoy food or cooking as an activity for stress relief (36%) post-pandemic
At Medibank, we believe in Better Health for Better Lives. For 45 years, we’ve been supporting millions of people in Australia as one of the leading private health insurers. We’re also changing into a health company as we provide people with greater support to manage their health and wellbeing.
Medibank has created Live Better to support the health and wellbeing of all Australians. Live Better includes an online health hub. Medibank supports free, active and social activities and the Live Better rewards app.
Shazza McKenzie – Lost Phone Leg Lock
Stressling is a series of wrestling moves to help you lay the smackdown on stress. One of McKenzie’s favourite moves is the Lost Phone Leg Lock, inspired by the insight that one of the biggest stressors for Aussies is simply losing their phone. Here’s how you can do it:
Step 1: Grab a small cushion from the couch or a pillow from your bed and raise it up over your head. Take a deep breath, and be ready to let out a roar or scream (however stressed you’re feeling…)
Step 2: Release your breath, scream or roar and slam the pillow from over your head onto the ground.
Step 3: Lying on your side with one elbow and leg on the ground, grab your pillow and place it behind your leg furthest away from the floor. The pillow should fit comfortably behind your knee.
Step 4: With your pillow behind your knee, grab your foot and pull it close to your body. Try some deep breathing and hold for a few seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
Psychologist Noosha Anzab – Stress Tips
Stress is essentially any circumstance that throws off, or upsets our homeostatic balance – and it can do all sorts of things to us. It can disrupt our sleep, upset our stomachs, make us nervous and impact our endocrine, nervous, and immune systems and not in a very good way. But it isn’t all doom and gloom, there are some sure-fire methods we can all use to alleviate stress.
1. Get creative and curious
A great way to relieve stress is to get creative. Ample research has shown that arts and crafts, expressive writing and music, or movement-based creative expression can result in significantly lowering of stress levels. In turn, promoting a sense of freedom from constraints, increasing flow and enjoyment, as well as evoking the relaxation response.
We all know the benefits of exercise, it not only helps our physiology, but it positively impacts our psychology too. Research indicates that exercise can help us feel significantly calmer, with the effect lasting for hours afterwards through the release of endorphins, like Dopamine and Serotonin. The best part is, that we don’t need to be gym-junkies or pro-athletes to reap these rewards! All we need is approximately 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week and we can actively alter our stress levels.
3. Ditch the concrete jungle
Getting outside, not just for exercises’ sake (even though this is massively helpful), can really be beneficial in reducing stress. In comparison to urbanised settings, visiting natural environments can truly show a marked change in our biophysical markers. Essentially – we can literally unplug from heightened stress, simply by stepping outdoors!
4. Sleep it off
Another important, but seriously underrated way to reduce stress, is to prioritise sleep! It seems simple, and, in a way, it totally is. Sleep can aid in reducing stress through reducing our adrenal activity, which works to bring down our circulating stress hormones. Quality sleep is critical in reducing stress and fatigue and in turn increasing our productivity, immunity, mood and overall health.