Handy hacks to address your Christmas stress revealed

By | November 24, 2018

Christmas is around the corner – and for many people that can be the cause of added stress.

A YouGov poll for the Mental Health Foundation found nearly 75 per cent of us admitted feeling so stressed in 2018 that we were overwhelmed or unable to cope.

The good news is help is out there.

Here, psychologist Anjula Mutanda explains why we can feel like we’re burning out – and reveals some simple but useful life hacks to help cope.

STRESS BUSTERS

Chew gum

This can cut anxiety and some studies suggest it boosts alertness and blood flow to the brain.

Inflate a balloon

Sounds odd, but this forces you to take a deep breath and can be a distraction from any stress – you see this balloon blowing up in front of you and let it all go. Clients of mine say they tie up balloons and then pop them to release stress.

Christmas can be stressful and very busy

 

 

Try the box method

Get something like a tissue box, and follow the line of the carton all the way round with your finger. As you go horizontally, breathe in and as you go down, breathe out. This shallow breathing can help to calm you.

The rubber band technique

If you snap a rubber band round your wrist, it’s actually associated with pain. You think “that hurts” – and you can snap yourself out of negative thinking back into reality. It reminds you not to think those thoughts by avoiding the unpleasant ping.

Avoid bad news

Turn off those alerts and stop reading negative stories. If you’re a natural worrier and it’s actually on your phone, that sphere of danger seems closer than it is and you get into a “what if” cycle – as in “what if that happens here?”

Be selfish and say no

Get really selfish about your precious time. Simple things – like getting fresh air or going for a swim – can help to clear your head and gain a new perspective on things. Learn to say no to people who dump problems on you. These people will ultimately drain and overwhelm you.

 

Put pen to paper

Often people don’t know what will trigger their stresses – so I tell them to take a moment and keep a diary. Write down what you eat, how you sleep, how your mood is and what thoughts run around in your head. Do it for a week and you’ll see more clearly where the stress comes from.

Consider getting a dog to beat long-term stress

Dog owners are a lot less stressed. When you stroke a dog it can calm you down, they give unconditional love and you can take them for de-stressing strolls.

WHAT IS STRESS AND WHAT CAUSES IT?

Stress is our alarm system to any kind of threat. We need a certain amount of short-lived stress to deal with life – so feeling a bit of pressure when we have to deliver a deadline or do some public speaking can be beneficial and get you ready for action.

Excessive stress can be caused by all kinds of things – from the death of a loved one to long-term illness or divorce. Recently I have noticed an increase in clients reporting job insecurities and worries about debt as a major source of stress. I’m also seeing growing numbers of students presenting with exam stress and worries about the future.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

If you constantly feel frustrated, anxious, tearful or on a short fuse, you could be suffering stress. Some people get stomach aches or even irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Poor ­concentration, headaches and feeling overtired can strike.

WHEN SHOULD I SEEK EXPERT HELP?

When you start taking time off work, you haven’t slept properly for weeks, you can’t concentrate and have near-misses when you’re driving – this tells you that you’re just not coping. That’s when you need to say ‘You know what, I need some expert help here’. If you can seek help before this point, all the better.

  • Anjula’s book How To Do Relationships is available now. Visit anjula.com for more info on her work.

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