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Media coverage: Kiwis spend over a week each year worrying, anxious - study


If you've begun your Tuesday morning stressing about this week's food bill, the dishwasher that needs fixing and the fight you had with your friend two months ago, you're not alone. 

A new study has brought to light just how much time Kiwis spend stressing about both the big and little things. 

According to the survey from rehabilitation service Active+, 70 percent of Kiwis spend at least half an hour per day worrying, with 38.76 percent topping more than two hours. Over the course of the year, that means that most people are losing just over seven days to stress and worry.

Anxiety is actually the number one issue bothering New Zealanders according to the study of 835 people, followed by excess weight and depression. 

"It comes as no surprise that anxiety is at the top of the list," says Dr Kris Fernando, neuropsychologist and chief of clinical services at Active+. 

"It is one of the most common officially classified mental illnesses. And those stats only represent people whose anxiety gets so bad they seek medical treatment. Google searches for anxiety are up 150 percent in the past eight years." 

Dr Fernando says while it could be because people are becoming more comfortable discussing mental health, it's also probably down to the "faster-paced" lives we're all leading.

"There is increasing pressure both at work and home, and the reliance on digital devices and social media isn't useful either. 

"Our brains rarely get an opportunity to switch off." Still, Dr Fernando insists it's normal to worry from time to time. "It's part of a completely natural set of emotions, so we would never want to talk about eliminating it entirely. It's how you manage it that is important. While the best approach will "vary according to the individual," there are some methods we can all try. 

"Many people benefit from exercising, meditating or simply enjoying a relaxing daily ritual, whether that's a hot bath, reading a book or having a quiet cup of tea," she adds. "Eating a wholesome, balanced diet also helps. 

"However, if you feel like your anxiety is overwhelming or you're experiencing panic attacks, then you should speak to a professional, who can advise you on the best steps to take."

Active+ offers comprehensive rehabilitation services that include health professionals that can help with stress and its effects, such as psychologists, counsellors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers, dietitians, pharmacists and medical specialists.