Rates of depression and anxiety amongst women are alarmingly high, a new study shows.
Conducted by not-for-profit organisation Jean Hailes, the study explored physical and mental health issues raised by 10,000 Australian women between the ages of 18-80.
Starkly, 40 per cent of all respondents expressed that they’d had a diagnosable history of anxiety and/or depression and a large percentage said that they had the tendency to worry “excessively about different things”. Healthy sleep patterns were also at a concerning low among respondents.
So what’s going on?
Well, the survey authors suggest a link between women’s increased anxiety and a lack of physical activity, with “busy” women between the ages of 18 and 35 more likely to report at least mild levels of anxiety.
The report found more than 60% of us are not completing the required 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity a week, with common barriers being a lack of time and energy, as well as not having people to exercise with locally.
But, when young women are often juggling everything at this point in their lives — career, kids, finances, household, social lives — maintaining regular exercise can seem low on the priority list.
How can we fit exercise into our typical routine?
- Exercise however you bloody want:
So your friend’s obsessed with their spin class and recommends it to you, but the mere thought of all that pedalling makes you queasy. Don’t go! Do whatever makes you feel good, even if it’s unconventional. Beach walks, jump rope, badminton, jousting– they’re all legitimate. If you exercise just to please others, you’ll never stick to it.
- Stay on schedule:
When we’re sitting at our desk with a backlog of emails, it can be hard to fathom actually making it to that scheduled Pilates class. But do. Stay committed to the time you set aside to exercise. You wouldn’t skip an important work meeting, so don’t skip out on your health.
- Exercise doesn’t need to be long to be purposeful:
If you have 15 minutes at lunch free before your next meeting, capitalise on it. Go for a walk around the block, take the stairs rather than the lift, get up and do some yoga stretches at your desk (your colleagues will love it). Make a conscious effort to keep your body moving whenever you can.
- Track your progress:
Make note of your weight and endurance prior to starting exercise. Think about how you’d like your body to feel/look, and how you’d like to feel emotionally and mentally. Track the number of times you’re exercising each week and what you do. As soon as you see the physical and mental benefits of exercise, it’ll become easier to make it the weekly norm.
For help with depression and anxiety contact Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.