Stress is something everyone feels at times, and there are all kinds of stressful situations that can be a part of daily life. Christmas is a time of year that can add additional stresses to our lives so it's very important to monitor and pay attention for your wellbeing – after all, mental health doesn't take time off at Christmas.
There are plenty of things you can do to help cope with stressful events, and simple steps you can take to deal with feelings of stress. However, stress can creep up on you so if you are feeling overwhelmed then seek professional help.
IAM RoadSmart, the UK's largest independent road safety charity, has top tips to help you protect your mental health this Christmas and ensure your stress gauge doesn't hit the red zone. This is particularly importantly as a build up of stress can cause all kinds of problems and to support Road Safety this Christmas and reduce Road Risk we want to ensure everyone is in the right headspace when they are on the road.
So how can you lower that stress gauge?
Plan your time
By making a list of things that need to be done, you will have a clear idea of what you are supposed to accomplish on a given day and this by itself, will reduce half your stress, since it'll form structure to your arrangements, and you won't need to rely on memory alone. It will also give you a buzz crossing completed tasks off the list. Or use it as a control zone, don't start adding more onto your list that's not achievable and already bulging. Delegate, maybe engage a partner or colleague to pick up some of the tasks to help out.
Put yourself first
The festive period can sometimes mean you neglect yourself and get swept up into other peoples' ideas of fun. While you might enjoy spoiling those around you or filling your diary with celebrations – it's your time too. Try to book in or block out some free time just for you, whether you use it to curl up on the sofa with a book or catch up with a friend – it can be helpful to have that rest to avoid running on empty.
Remember that majority of people only use social media to share the best aspects of their lives and you don't know what's going on behind the smiling selfies and fancy presents. Avoid comparing your experiences to others online, and it's always worth being mindful of how other people might feel when they see the content you share during this time. Consider taking a break for a few hours, days or longer from social media and enjoy the moment.
Giving the gift of time
It's nice to give physical gifts at Christmas, but we often neglect one of the most important gifts we can give - time. Whether you choose to visit a neighbour that may be alone this festive season, offering to babysit for a loved one, picking up the phone to a family member, or volunteering in your local area – giving the gift of time will give you a sense of pride this year.
Getting outdoors to enjoy wintery walks can be the perfect medicine and a chance to blow those cobwebs away. Being surrounded by the same people in the same house for too long can get a bit intense, so a change of scenery can do the world of good. This can also help to break up the day if you're in a big group of people. Think about a Boxing Day walk or Christmas morning or afternoon stroll. Good for you to get some fresh, air, exercise and split up the group.
Health is wealth
Most of us confess to overindulging over the festive period, yet keeping your diet as balanced as possible will help to avoid lowering your energy which can lead to changes in your mood. Try to avoid those sugar rushes but take in a variety of food. Planning your weeks meals and creating a menu to follow, especially during the extended holiday period will help save stress. In means you don't have to worry about what to cook if you've already bought the ingredients and could even encourage others to 'take a turn' in the kitchen to further reduce your stress. Grab that hour back for yourself if you get a willing volunteer. Employ gratitude even if it's more for the effort that the results!
Christmas tipples may make you feel relaxed, but that isn't true for everyone. Don't forget that drinking can leave some feeling irritable and experiencing low moods. IAM RoadSmart maintains there is no true safe limit as to when a small amount of alcohol becomes risky so better to not indulge at all. Alcohol affects different people in different ways depending on a variety of factors, not least age and build. Check out our myth busters as the only thing that helps is time, not food, coffee or energy drinks. Don't get caught out. Also be prepared if you are the taxi home that your stress levels could be tested by your passengers!
Taking time to sleep
Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling low, so keeping regular sleep patterns over the Christmas period can really help to maintain good mental health. If you have difficulty sleeping, then here are some useful tips for good sleep hygiene. With everyone's anxiety or excitement levels out of sync maybe add in an extra nap time to your busy schedule. Sometimes have an early night or an afternoon snooze can really boost your mental health levels.
Trusted friends, family, and colleagues, or contacting a helpline, can help us when we are struggling. Christmas may feel overwhelming at times so have a chat to someone you trust. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved. Also chatting to someone different, a change of scene or routine, maybe visiting someone as part of the 'gifting your time' could lift your mood. Chat to someone in a supermarket queue, share a joke as you never know if they are needing a boost too. Ultimately look after yourself during what can be a very lonely season.
*Article Source www.iam.vuelio.co.uk