When travelling abroad, Australians are often asked about the pace of life in Australia and the famous Australian work-life balance. But has the Australian lifestyle rightfully earned this ‘no-worries’ reputation? Is this relaxed image justified? And what is it actually based on? Maybe the Australian population is not exceptionally easy going, Maybe it’s all just a myth.
What Are the Tangibles?
Australia is an island, and while it doesn’t share the vacation pace and lifestyle of islands like Fiji or Rarotonga, it is to an extent, isolated from many stressful influences. Even in this day and age of technology and globalization geography maintains a level of social effect. If you look at a world map you will see that Australia is right at the ‘bottom’ of the world, separated from the rest, far from the geopolitical pressures that come with living in Europe, Asia or North America.
The climate in Australia is warm, the country enjoys a sunny summer and even tropical weather in the north. This together with the continent’s huge coastline lead to an outdoor lifestyle, with 90% of the population living on the coast. Nature and wildlife are significant components of Australian culture. Many people spend large portions of their free time on the beach, at sea or hiking. The comfortable weather and topography also encourage outdoor sports. These aspects of Australian life have relaxing and healthy traits to them.
What Does Research Show?
While famous for their laid-back attitude, Australians are also known to have a strong work ethic. Funnily enough, it is sometimes due to the ‘no-worries’ attitude that Australians take on more than they can handle at work, just so as not to cause a fuss or express anxiety.
According to research the stress levels in Australia are quite high:
• A 2010 poll found that nine out of ten Australians suffer from work related stress and are more effected by anxiety than Americans.
• A 2014 study by the Australian Psychological Society reported that almost two out of five Australians experience some level of depression and more than 25% suffer from anxiety.
• Numbers released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2016 show that 75% of survey participants feel the effect of stress on their physical health and 64% feel its effect on their mental health.
On the up side, a 2013 Bloomberg Study, which compared stress levels in 74 countries around the world ranked Australia as one of the least stressed among the countries surveyed.
So What’s the Verdict?
The reasons for stress and anxiety in Australia are not surprising or unique, they include financial concerns and health issues. It’s difficult to stay calm and maintain a healthy work-life balance, even in relaxed Australia, as pressure is embedded in the 21st century’s DNA. However, the Australian lifestyle, appreciation for the outdoors, love of sports, flexibility, friendliness and general acceptance, all help Australians tolerate the difficulties of our time and enjoy life to the fullest.