Stress is a big part of our everyday lives, but it’s what we do for a living that could just tip us over the edge. A just-released survey conducted by mental wellness advocate, Pharma Dynamics, reveals which careers rank amongst the most stressful.
Almost 2 000 respondents living and working in South Africa participated in the online survey, which aimed to measure job-related stress based on several stress triggers. These included factors such as the physical and mental demands of a job, deadlines, how much traveling is required, whether it entails working long hours, being exposed to public scrutiny, dealing with conflict and generally what type of risks are associated with various professions.
Mariska van Aswegen, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics – a pharmaceutical firm specialising in central nervous system medication for the treatment of depression and anxiety – says it was interesting to see where various professions were plotted on the stress chart.
“To some, certain occupations might not appear to be stressful, while in reality they are. Sitting behind a desk all day might seem like a cosy job, but many white-collar professions can produce an enormous amount of stress,” she says.
Based on the findings, pilots claimed the top spot overall, largely due to the high degree of personal risk the job poses to themselves and others. The taxing physical and mental demands of the role, on top of working long and arduous hours, also added to its high stress rating. At the other end of the scale was a surprising find… Economists, who under the dire current economic climate should be stressed beyond measure, appear to be the least stressed among the 40+ professions that were included in the survey.
Hair stylists, which came in at second place, also have it rough. Most cited the degree of competitiveness in the industry, unmanageable deadlines and the constant pressure of working in the public eye as reasons for their stress. The environment in which most salons operate is often fast-paced and exposes hair stylists to unhealthy fumes and noise, which could potentially add to their already high levels of anxiety. The job is also physically demanding as it requires a lot of standing and many suffer from chronic back pain as a result.
Farm life with its country setting is often idealised, but as the pace of agriculture increases along with the unescapable threat of global warming it comes as no surprise that farming counts among the third most stressful occupations in SA.
|Occupation||Average stress score|
Van Aswegen says even though not all jobs require the same level of stress and effort, stress remains an unwelcome part of any profession.
“Of particular concern however is the high level of stress that participants across various career fields reported. More than 31% referred to their jobs as extremely stressful, 40% described their job-stress as mild, while only 29% cited work-stress as manageable.
“Chronic stress can have a long-term effect on the mind and body, and when stress starts interfering with your ability to live a normal life, it becomes even more dangerous. Chronic stress may also cause disease, either because of changes in your body or overeating, smoking and other bad habits people use to cope with stress. If you experience constant job strain, it increases the stress hormone, cortisol, which affects many brain functions and could in turn increase your risk of depression and anxiety.
“October is recognised as National Mental Health Awareness Month, which makes the last stretch of the year an important time to reflect on work-related stress and the impact it has on our mental well-being.
“To many, persistent stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but it shouldn’t be. Make a point of measuring how much stress is in your life by identifying the situations that cause it most, how often these occur and what you can do to prevent it,” advises van Aswegen.
Some stress-busting measures include:
- Walking away when you are angry before reacting
- Exercising – physical activity increases the production of endorphins which will give your mood an instant boost
- Resting your mind by turning off multi-media devices completely or at least limiting screen time
- Reaching out to friends and family by letting them know you’re having a tough time at work
- Making time for enjoyable activities every day
- Getting enough shut-eye – at least eight hours a night
If, however, you continue to feel overwhelmed by job-stess, consult a psychologist or contact Pharma Dynamics’ toll-free helpline on 0800 205 026, which is manned by trained counsellors who are on call from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
Pros and Cons of a joint home loan
At some stage in life everyone aspires to have a home of their own, but circumstances such as not earning enough income to qualify for a bond can often come in the way. Fortunately, banks do allow individuals to apply for home loans jointly to be able to realise their dreams.
Dr Simphiwe Madikizela, Head of Special Projects at FNB Housing Finance says a joint application can help increase your chances of qualifying as both parties’ incomes and expenses are taken into account to assess the affordability based on their disposable income.
“Before applying for a joint bond, you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages to avoid any pitfalls,” says Madikizela.
There is a high likelihood that the housing loan application will be approved if both individuals have a good credit record.
You can afford to buy property that one partner wouldn’t necessarily afford with their salary alone.
You could benefit from a good interest rate as affordability assessment is done on both parties.
You are only liable for half of the bond payments and legal fees.
If you are not married, you will share ownership of the property with another individual once paid off.
If there is a default, both partners’ credit records are affected.
Should one partner want to pull out of the bond agreement, a new bond application will have to be processed and a full credit assessment conducted on the application to verify affordability.
In addition, the home loan facility will be closed, which means you will have to pay bond registration fees for the new home loan facility.
Upon the approval of the home loan, the bank may require both applicants to have adequate life cover that will be ceded onto the bond.
During the application process, both parties need to sign all the necessary documents such as the offer to purchase, home loan quote and legal documents, etc.
Most importantly, the monthly debit order has to come from one account. As a result, this will have to be agreed beforehand to ensure that there are always funds available to avoid defaulting on the monthly bond repayments.
“Buying a property is a big commitment and the decision to buy with someone else should not be taken lightly. The parties need to work out all the eventualities before taking ownership as shortcomings could potentially set you back financially,” concludes Madikizela.
Rooibos research gets R3-Million boost
The South African Rooibos Council (SARC) will invest a further R3-million this year to commission additional research into rooibos’ health-enhancing properties, which could yield some of the most exciting new discoveries yet.
Already known for its myriad of health benefits, most of the research done on rooibos has been limited to laboratory work and animal studies. The next tranche of investment will enable researchers to build an even more solid foundation for human trials, and in some instances, to move forward with clinical studies.
Ernest du Toit, spokesperson of the SA Rooibos Council says since research on the remarkable Aspalathus Linearis plant was first conducted, science has proven its therapeutic ability to help prevent cancer, protect the liver and heart against disease, boost the immune system, reduce hypertension, relieve allergies and thwart the effects of aging.
“Rooibos research has reached a critical point where significant investment is required to take it to the next phase, which is likely to pave the way for other important findings and the possible development of nutraceutical products in combatting disease,” he says.
Among the exciting research currently underway is that of rooibos’ effectiveness in curbing altitude sickness. Prof Simeon Davies, Head of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Sports Department led a pilot study to investigate the role of rooibos supplementation on several climbers during an expedition to summit Aconcagua in Argentina, which at 6 962m is the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere.
Many mountaineers who ascend to high altitudes often need to take prescription medication to combat high altitude sickness (HAS), but preliminary findings show that rooibos’ antioxidant compounds has a beneficial outcome for high altitude climbers. Further research related to this has just been approved by the SA Rooibos Council and if successful, rooibos could provide a viable natural alternative to pharmacological medication for HAS.
Ongoing research by the SA Medical Research Council into rooibos’ cancer-fighting properties could see it playing a more prominent role in curbing the risk of this life-threatening disease, while other studies will ascertain the efficacy of rooibos in the treatment of chronic wounds that plague diabetics – a phenomenon which is set to increase as the condition becomes more widespread. Currently, about one in 14 South Africans between the ages of 21 and 79 have diabetes.
Over the past decade, the SA Rooibos Council has invested more than R30-million in research, which has given rise to a host of new products and markets.
Rooibos is arguably one of the most successful indigenous plant products to be commercialised with global consumption currently at 15 000 tons. It is exported to more than 30 countries with Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, the UK and US among the biggest importers of rooibos.
Du Toit notes that by continuing to invest in research and keeping a close eye on studies done overseas and locally, the SA Rooibos Council is not only able to provide scientific evidence of the plant’s specific health benefits, but also to police inaccurate or unsubstantiated claims on behalf of the rooibos industry.
“As the guardian of the rooibos sector, we have also lobbied for the protection of rooibos products elsewhere in the world and in 2014, the European Union finally recognised rooibos as a Geographic Indicator (GI), which means that local rooibos manufacturers have exclusive ownership of rooibos trademarks and IP, and that the use of the rooibos name will only be applicable to products that come from South Africa, which are officially approved by the DTI, guaranteeing quality control.
“Rooibos is a unique South African plant, which offers almost limitless health benefits. The plant’s medicinal properties continue to astound scientists, and I believe we’ve only just scratched the surface of Rooibos’ incredible healing potential. We are entering an exciting period of research, which could have a significant impact on the rooibos industry and is sure to pave a bright future for one of SA’s most sought-after herbal assets,” concludes du Toit.
What is free sugar costing our kids?
It’s no longer a secret that the vast majority of us are blissfully unaware sugar addicts. Modern conveniences in consumables are great at making life easier in the short term, but what about the long term implications?
A report published in 2009 showcases that food addiction is plausible as “brain pathways that evolved to respond to natural rewards are also activated by addictive drugs. Sugar releases opioids and dopamine and thus might be expected to have addictive potential.”
A further report published in 2013 indicates that sugar is as, if not more, desirable than addictive drugs such as cocaine. This research aims to prove that “sugar and sweetness can induce reward and craving that are comparable in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs”.
With these two findings it’s hard to believe that as parents we are still largely oblivious to the long term, damaging effects of over consuming sugar-dense foods and beverages.
So a sugar tax maybe introduced, this will certainly help moderate and potentially reduce the average consumption of free sugars (sugar added to food and drink, as well as sugar found naturally in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates). But it will take a deeper understanding of what we consume to avoid the top health issues South Africans currently face – obesity, diabetes and heart conditions? All directly resulting from amongst other factors, but largely to sugar-dense diets and little to no exercise.
According to a statement released by the World Health Organisation “adults and children need to reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits”.
So what is a safe recommended daily allowance for sugar? Although we all lead different lifestyles and have varying metabolic requirements, the UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) have suggested the following:
• Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g or five teaspoons of free sugars per day
• Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g or six teaspoons of free sugars per day
• Children aged 11 years and upwards, as well as adults, should have no more than 30g or seven teaspoons of free sugar per day
To illustrate what this means, take a look at some of the popular beverages our children love, and their approximate sugar contents:
• 250ml iced tea = 19g or four teaspoons of free sugar
• 250ml flavoured drinking yoghurt = 26.8 g or five and a half teaspoons of free sugar
• 330ml cola = 35g or seven teaspoons of free sugar
• 330ml ginger beer = 37g or six and a half teaspoons of free sugar
Overcoming an addiction is by no means an easy feat and the same holds true for sugar dependency. Almost all modern convenience consumables contain added free sugar especially children’s favourites such as cereals, beverages, fast foods and treats.
So how do we reduce the excess sugars from our diets?
1. Become aware, understand that food is medicine and always try to ensure that that all consumables remain as close as possible to their natural state. If sweetening is required, look at healthier options such as fresh fruit or vegetables.
2. Read labels carefully, not all free or added sugars are labelled as sugars. For example: agave nectar, corn sweetener, dextrose, honey, corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, glucose and molasses.
3. Limit sugar added beverages, cited as being responsible for the majority of added sugar in US diets. Try naturally flavouring water or using a SodaStream to make fun, healthier drink options. Their syrups also comprise one third of the sugar compared to regular sodas.
4. Reduce your family’s super sweet sugar tolerance with a moderated sugar and bolstered wholefood diet. Over time consumables high in sugar will start tasting too sweet as your tolerance returns to its normal natural state.
5. Bake instead of buying treats. Homemade treats will no doubt contain less added and highly synthetic sweeteners, and you have the ability to further reduce the sugar content with natural sweeteners like fruits or vegetables. One favourite cupcake recipe calls for swapping out a large portion of the sugar for a glass of white wine, the alcohol cooks out and makes a delicious, moist cupcake.
The key to all healthy living is moderation and a balanced diet. This is not to say indulgent foods high in fat and/or sugar can’t be enjoyed, they can, but just not daily.
Herewith a quick and easy recipe from SodaStream, for more fun recipes, please visit www.sodastream.co.za/recipe/.
Raspberry Coolers for Kids
• 1 bottle SodaStream Zero Cranberry Raspberry
• Fresh organic raspberries
1. Prepare the SodaStream Zero Cranberry Raspberry (flavoured to your liking)
2. Throw in fresh organic raspberries
3. Garnish with mint
About SodaStream South Africa
SodaStream is the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of Sparkling Water Maker operating in 45 countries and available in more than 70,000 retail stores in five continents around the globe. SodaStream enables consumers to easily transform ordinary tap water into sparkling water and flavoured sparkling water in seconds. By making ordinary water more exciting and fun to drink, SodaStream helps consumers drink more water. SodaStream sparkling water makers offer a highly differentiated and innovative alternative to consumers wanting to reduce bottled and canned carbonated soft drinks. SodaStream products promote health and wellness, are environmentally friendly and cost effective, and are customizable and fun to use.
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