Fireworks sparkle in the air. Champagne flows freely. Goodwill and cheerful wishes come from all sides as everyone celebrates the start of a new year and solemnly promises to follow through on all those elusive new year’s resolutions. Fast forward to February and most of us have come off the high of “new beginnings” that the start of a new year brings, and have hit a slump. According to a poll by ComRes, 66% of us will abandon our resolutions within a month of making them.
And on the back of the negative emotions that often accompany a failed resolution, the stress of the year begins to mount. Finding ways to address your anxiety and stress levels early on in the year is critical if you or a loved one want to fight against developing depression and experiencing another year of high-stress levels and the accompanying side effects.
So how can you fight back again stress in the new year?
For many of us, our health considerations going into a new year are driven in some way by a desire to feel better about ourselves through appearance improvement. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get into shape, we’re often aiming at achieving an unrealistic ideal of the perfect physique. Which means it’s that much easier to lose motivation and call it quits when you realise the perfect abs aren’t going to materialise overnight.
Exercise has some amazing benefits – in fact, it’s essential for staying healthy and keeping stress levels down. But to be effective, it needs to be an ongoing part of your daily life, which means perhaps rethinking your reasons for exercising and choosing to focus on its day to day rewards. Be kind to yourself and start small – as little as 20 minutes a day will go a long way towards helping you manage your stress. Perhaps take a daily walk, or sign up for a weekly yoga class.
Meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools when it comes to lowering stress levels. Numerous studies have shown that individuals who participate in some form of meditation regularly are happier, less stressed and more well-balanced. The bonus of participating in mindfulness meditation is the ability to stay in the moment irrespective of circumstance. This means learning not to fall into the trap of catastrophic thinking or rehashing past situations, two activities that often bring about great stress.
Tying in with taking care of your body, reevaluating your lifestyle is invaluable for lowering your stress levels. You can do this by identifying areas in your life where unhealthy habits or practices might be thriving, and address them. Maybe you need to consider changing your diet. Perhaps it means it’s finally time to give up caffeine, nicotine or alcohol. While not easy changes to make, these are all areas that have the ability to boost your wellbeing and leave you feeling less stressed.
Struggling to manage your time is a major stressor, and letting time management slide early in a year is a sure-fire way to send your stress levels soaring. Take a hard look at your life and the year which has passed, and try to identify potential time-sapping areas you can adjust to feel less stressed. Remember that the goal of time management is not to squeeze in as much as possible, nor are any two people’s capacity for activity the same. For you, perhaps time management means cutting back on activities or setting a schedule in place that helps you set aside the time to rest, destress and recharge.
The value of an early night’s rest is not to underestimated. Too often we fall prey to late nights after watching too much television or sitting on our computers and devices. For some, it might be bad habits like too many late nights out with friends. Human beings need to rest – our brains require us to get enough sleep to function well. Understandably, some people do struggle with sleep for other reasons, like medical or mental health conditions and medication that interferes with their ability to sleep restfully.
If this is you, chat to your local doctor. See if anything can be done to help you get into a good sleep routine from their side, and be prepared to make lifestyles changes like giving up caffeine past a certain time, and exercising regularly.
Sometimes it can be difficult for us to identify our sources of stress. Stress is an insidious malady, and it might sometimes surprise you where you’re feeling the most pressure. Seeking out your sources of stress can be done quite well through a stress journal. Not only is writing and journaling cathartic but on looking back through your entries, you’re likely to identify triggers or sources of stress that you can address successfully.
Animals aren’t for everyone, but for some people (especially those who suffer with anxiety, depression and stress), they have been proven to be great at easing stress levels and improving relaxation. There are numerous therapeutic benefits to either owning an animal or getting involved with a program where you can spend time with them. So if you are fond of animals, why not consider getting a furry friend to help lighten your life?
The stressful nature of modern living has left many under the mistaken assumption that living with high levels of stress is a normal state of being, and that all you can do is learn to muddle along. This simply isn’t true. We live in an exceptionally stressful society, and often have very few coping mechanisms taught to us that are healthy. Subsequently, we often labour under the weight of stress until it aids in the development of more powerful mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
If you’ve been facing anxiety and depression, and you know stress is a contributing factor, we’d love to chat to you and help you find healthy ways of lowering your stress and living your best possible life, with sound mental and emotional health. If you’ve ever felt like stress and depression are becoming too much for you, you’re not alone. And there is hope! You may need some medication, or perhaps therapy. But there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and with the right balance of professional help and the above tips, you can start living a less-stressed life. If you’d like to chat with us, you can contact us by calling 020 8298 9677, or by submitting your details on our website.
And now, in the spirit of facing the new year, we’d like to encourage you to make a mental health promise to yourself to make those changes that will see you beating stress and thriving. We’ve created a free promise template for you to complete and print to help remind you of your goals. Put it on the fridge, your cupboard door or next to your bed.
Remember, it’s a no pressure promise – rather it’s simply a reminder to yourself to put on foot in front of the other and slowly make the changes you need to in order to live a less stressed and more health life. Good luck!