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Stress levels of Australian Couples impacting Physical Health: Two basic ways to cope with stress

In today’s fast paced society, it is impossible to avoid stress in our lives. A survey of Australian adults found that 1 in 4 respondents reported moderate to severe levels of stress, highest amongst 18-25 and 26-35 age groups. Almost 1 in 5 (17%) reported that current stress levels are having a strong to very strong impact on physical health (Australian Psychological Society, 2014).

Stressors are external events which cause an emotional or physical reaction. The impact of the event depends on whether one views the event as positive or negative. When stress levels are high or chronic, it is common for physical symptoms (headaches, backaches), psychological symptoms (anxiety, anger) and relational issues (conflict, disconnection) to emerge.

There are 2 basic ways to cope with stress:

  1. Eliminate the stressor. Some stressors represent things that are controllable (working too many hours). In some cases, it is possible to make choices that actually eliminate the stressor (change jobs).
  2. Change one’s reaction to stress. When a stressor cannot be eliminated, it is important to look at how one reacts or copes in response to the stressor. Learning and using healthy coping mechanisms can help individuals respond to stress in healthier ways.

Stress and Couples 

A 2009 study of 82 couples demonstrates how high stress levels can negatively impact marriages (Neff & Karney, 2009).

The greater the stress levels, the more strongly partners react to the normal ups and downs of life. In other words, when stress levels are high, we experience perceived stress more intensely.

The study also suggests high stress levels make it more difficult to effectively use one’s positive relationship skills such as communication and conflict resolution abilities.

Finally, couples are more likely to evaluate their relationship negatively when they are experiencing prolonged exposure to stress. High stress negatively colors a couple’s perceptions of their marriage.

References:

Australian Psychologicsl Society (2014): www.psychology.org.au

Neff, L.A., and Karney, B.R., (2009). Stress and reactivity to daily relationship experiences: How stress hinders adaptive processes in marriage. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97 (3), 435-450.

Tune in next week for part 2.

By Shane Smith, Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and Mediator, Secretary, Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia.
Email president@mareaa.asn.au

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you are going in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Balance: Start slow and build up to make exercise a regular part of your day and week

We are all in a state of entropy and only consistent and continued refinement and attention to Physical, Intellectual, Social and our Spiritual selves is vital to retain balance. To ensure an upward spiral of growth, change, and continuous improvement in ourselves and our relationships, learn to take care of yourself.

  1. Physical

Exercise whenever you can and feel the chemical change in your body. Get out doors and enjoy the world. Despite the challenges, it truly is a beautiful world we live in.

Start slow and build up to make exercise a regular part of your day and week. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Improvement becomes the norm and if we take this into our relationships, we can focus on improving rather than thinking that it ought to be perfect.

If we appreciate that change is inevitable, therefore focusing on getting better rather than being perfect, we can alleviate anxiety. Enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Start today.

Reference:

  • Covey, S, 1989: Principle Centred Leadership

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Balance: continued refinement and attention to all of the following four areas in our lives

Often we find we live our lives narrowly focusing on work or home. Think about your life and the balance you maintain. Change is possible and often easier than you think.

The late Stephen Covey suggests consistent and continued refinement and attention to all of the following four areas in our lives:

  1. Physical;
  2. Intellectual;
  3. Social and
  4. Spiritual.

Attempting to balance exercise, nutrition and stress management (physical); by reading, visualising, planning and writing (Intellectual); focusing on clarifying values and our commitment, dedicating time to study, our faith and/or meditation (Spiritual); and through our service, being empathic, being synergistic and ensuring security (Social), ensures success.

Don’t get caught up in the demands of life and forget ourselves and our partner. Be proactive and do this for your relationship. “We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time to regularly sharpen the saw in all four ways”.

You don’t have to get it right the first time. This is part of life’s journey of learning and developing. You will get there if you are willing to invest the time and effort to developing new habits.

Reference:

  • Covey, S, 1989: Principle Centred Leadership

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Increasingly employees seek organisations that offer wellbeing programs covering physical, mental, financial and spiritual health

Employees are demanding additional benefits in the modern workplace including a wide range of programs for physical, mental, financial and spiritual health.

As the line between work and play continues to blur, employers are investing in wellbeing programs as both a social responsibility and a talent strategy. In a Deloitte survey of Australian organisations, 39% of respondents said they offer comprehensive wellbeing programs, including mindfulness, life balance and financial fitness.

If the statistics are true, various studies have demonstrated that employees who are happy in all aspects of their lives are happier and more productive employees.

  • Attempting to balance exercise, nutrition and stress management (physical); by reading, visualising, planning and writing (Intellectual); focusing on clarifying values and our commitment, dedicating time to study, our faith and/or meditation (Spiritual); and through our service, being empathic, being synergistic and ensuring security (Social), are likely to make a significant difference to us as a productive employee.
  • For our close and intimate relationships equally, it is essential that we continually review and draw attention to these areas to ensure an upward spiral of growth, change, and continuous improvement. The importance of renewal in our lives can not be underestimated. Learning, growing and developing new capabilities and expanding on the old ones is the process through which marital harmony is made possible.
  • Seek an organisation that offers wellbeing programs or ask your company what can be offered. If they are already offered, take advantage of them and enjoy the holistic benefits.
  • In your relationship, seek to challenge the status quo and ensure an upward spiral of growth, change, and continuous improvement.

    Reference: https://www-businessinsider-com-au.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.businessinsider.com.au/workplace-trends-deloitte-human-capital-2018-4/amp

    Material used with permission of PREPARE/ENRICH Australia.

    Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

    Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

    Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf