A recent study has revealed that trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle was a source of stress for 40% of Australians. The Stress and Wellbeing Survey 2012 was conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and showed that younger adults (18-25 year olds) in particular reported that trying to stay fit and healthy was contributing to their overall levels of stress.
Young adulthood is a time period of rapid change and transition. People are leaving home, finishing study, starting full time work, establishing independence as well as dating and looking for their long–term partners. This time of immense change means trying to eat well and exercise regularly can seem too much and be perceived as increasing stress levels. There are other social pressures also such as drinking alcohol or smoking which make it more difficult or stressful to stay healthy.
I myself remember being very active and healthy at school. It was easier then with school and weekend sport, a packed lunch everyday (thanks Mum!), home cooked meals and active holidays. Then I went to university and moved away from home. I was busy, tired and felt swamped with the pressure of deadlines and working part time. There was less time for regular exercise or sport commitments and holidays were spent working. I had to learn to cook for myself and eating out with friends was often the less healthy option. No two semesters at university were the same and so my routine changed every few months. By my early 20’s I started full time work and was juggling more demands in life. It took time to transition into a new routine with regular exercise, planning and preparing meals and generally adopting a healthy lifestyle. Each new change in life required new planning and readjusting to accommodate the new challenges I faced. I was very conscious it was especially important with my role as an osteopath to not just talk the talk but walk the talk when it came to having a healthy lifestyle!
I too learnt that making healthy lifestyle change is a decision that needs to be lived out everyday. Psychological research shows that it is process requiring planning, preparation and considering strategies for maintenance.
What can you do?
Commit to getting fit and adopting a healthy lifestyle, ask friends to hold you accountable, get professional advice if you need and be realistic. Having a healthy lifestyle requires lots of small decisions everyday. Sometimes you will fall short. Don’t beat yourself up. Just return to your healthy habits as soon as possible. It should be a lifelong endeavor to stay fit and be healthy. Go for it!
Sources Included: Stress & Wellbeing in Australia in 2012: A state-of-the-nation-survey.
Article written by Dr Melanie Woollam