The annual Stress and Wellbeing in Australia survey 2014, conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS), found that, for the first time, men have significantly higher levels of wellbeing than women.
The survey, which provides a yearly snapshot of the overall wellbeing of Australians, suggests that 2014 was a tougher year for women.
Family and personal finance issues were identified as the leading sources of stress for both sexes, but these factors are having a greater effect on women, the study found.
More than half (53 per cent) of Australian women cite personal financial issues as a major source of stress, compared to just 44 per cent of men.
Also, 52 per cent of all women reported family issues as a major source of stress compared to just 38 per cent of men.
Professor Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the APS, said identifying sources of stress is the first step to effectively managing stress.
"Stress can have an extremely detrimental effect on a person’s mental and physical health. It’s important to first identify the cause of stress to work towards avoiding the source, or adopting stress management behaviours," Professor Littlefield said.
"Different people are affected by different things, but it is interesting to see the varying impact family and personal financial issues have on stress levels for men and women."
Of all Australians, 72 per cent reported their current stress levels had an impact on their physical health and 64 per cent reported current stress levels had an impact on their mental health.
Women also reported a greater impact of stress on their health: more women (21%) than men (13%) said that stress was strongly impacting their physical health and more women (23%) than men (14%) reported that stress was strongly impacting their mental health.
Identifying warning signs and triggers, establishing workable routines, keeping healthy, changing negative 'self-talk', practising relaxation and getting appropriate support are suggested by the APS as effective measures to manage stress.
"Talking about mental health is difficult for a lot of Australians. National Psychology Week [November 9 to 15] provides an opportunity to start a conversation, or encourage Australians who might be struggling to ask for help," Professor Littlefield said.
"If you're feeling overwhelmed, or if you notice your stress levels are having a negative impact on your mental or physical health I encourage you to see a psychologist. Everyone needs help at some time, and it's okay to ask for it."
Tips for managing stress:
1. Spend time with people who care about you and share your feelings
2. Notice negative self-talk "I can’t cope", "I’m too tired"
3. Identify triggers, situations that make you stressed and try to avoid them
4. Exercise regularly
5. Eat a healthy diet and stay well-nourished
6. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs
7. Get enough sleep