Add to this the negative impact that winter can have on our mood, it is particularly important at this time of year that we do what we can to look after ourselves mentally.
Sometimes we may not even realise how much we are being affected by stress, but it is important that we regularly take time out of our busy schedules to ensure a healthy balance. Chartered psychologist Donna Holder explains some simple ways for us to release tension and enjoy life with less stress.
1. Think positive.
Stress is often heightened by not feeling in control of a situation, so rather than focusing on the things you can’t change, think about the things that you can. These may be small changes – maybe you can’t drastically adjust your work load, but you can try to delegate more to free up your time. Or sometimes it brings up bigger issues – you may not be able to change a friend’s behaviour, but you can choose to limit spending time with negative influences in your life.
2. Enjoy the present.
We often focus on the past or the future, but forget we live in the here and now. Worrying about future events can add stress to your life for no good reason and theoretical events may never happen. Try to make the most of opportunities today and you may even find that these also lead to further opportunities in the future.
3. Learn how to switch off.
With mobile phones, email-on-the-go and wi-fi everywhere, we seem to never disconnect and really relax. How often do you come home but your thoughts are still processing the events that happened earlier that day. Or you spend your commute home or time on the sofa still checking work emails or various social media sites? Try a short meditation every day to completely switch off – take 2-3 minutes to sit in a quiet space, empty your mind and focus on your breathing. Whenever a thought pops into your head, don’t address it, but let it float away
4. Take time to relax.
A cup of tea on the sofa or reading a magazine may help to empty your mind and switch off – the latest copy of HELLO! is perfect for relaxing moments! You can also turn to essential oils that are known for their calming properties, such as valerian and lavender. Try the Stress Remedy Plug-In Diffuser (£15 from Holland & Barrett) which fragrances the room for hours with a combination of valerian, sweet basil and sage, which have a calming, relaxing effect on body and mind.
5. Control your thoughts.
A big movement in stress management is cognitive behavioural therapy – looking at how the thoughts we have influence what we do. Examination of patterns of how we think can be helpful; are we condemning ourselves to failure and doom and gloom before we start? By consciously changing the way we think and creating thoughts conveying self belief we can change our ability to cope.
6. Monitor your stress.
Try to keep a stress journal or think about the triggers for your stress. Is it at certain times of the day? Does it occur with certain people or events? When we know what will raise our stress levels we can improve our ability to manage the influencing factors and minimise stress triggers.