Dashed expectations can be tricky to manage at the best of times; and particularly difficult when you are feeling tired and stretched too thin at work, at home, or both. With the festive season and future so clouded in uncertainty, it is not unusual to feel stressed or at a low ebb. According to a Mental Health Foundation survey, 54% of adults in the UK are concerned about the mental health of someone they know this Christmas.
Here are some tips to help you manage your frustrations and combat stress, even as pandemic-related rules and restrictions continue to evolve, so you can start the new year in a more relaxed and resilient state of mind.
Let it go
With rules and plans changing rapidly, it can feel like life is spiralling out of your control. Rather than trying to stay on top of everything, accept that there are many things you just can’t change – from travel restrictions to other people’s minds. Be open to possibilities and take a flexible approach to what comes next. Focus on two all-important things you do have a say over: your actions and your mindset.
Give yourself credit
Often, stress stems from feeling overwhelmed and thinking you won’t be able to handle things. However, if you take a moment to look back on your life experiences, you’ll remember times when you have faced and overcome incredible challenges, at work and in your personal life. You already possess many of the skills you’ll need to cope with new obstacles. Even if you didn’t handle things perfectly the last time, you still lived to learn from the experience.
Work on staying calm
Keeping calm is a skill that you can develop and strengthen over time. Being calm allows you to think more clearly, act more thoughtfully, and work more efficiently. One of the best ways to build this skill is to make time for a daily walk, meditation or yoga session. Explore apps like Calm and Headspace to claim some uninterrupted time out each day. Even five to ten minutes of me-time or some fresh air and a change of pace can help you to feel calmer and allow you to gain a new perspective on the issues that are causing stress.
54% of adults in the UK are concerned about the mental health of someone they know this Christmas.
Don’t diminish your feelings
Don’t diminish or ignore your feelings. If you’re feeling lonely or you recently lost someone, the festive season can be particularly tough. Or if you’re simply dog tired and disappointed over cancelled travel plans, that’s fine too. Give yourself permission to cry and express your feelings. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you need emotional support, talk to someone: a friend, your partner or a family member. If you’d prefer anonymous help, try online counselling services like Helloself or a legal mental health charity like LawCare.
Get enough sleep
While the ongoing pandemic can be a recipe for sleepless nights, it’s important to understand how critical it is to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep on a regular basis. A recent LawCare study drew a direct parallel between lack of sleep and burnout, finding that a quarter of legal professionals are averaging only 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night. If insomnia rather than an unrealistic workload is contributing to your lack of sleep, here are some tips for a more restful night.
Do some good
Acts of kindness and generosity are an excellent way to help you gain some perspective on your own stresses and concerns. Phoning a relative who might be lonely at Christmas, giving food to a shelter or donating to a charity will not only spread hope and make a real difference in someone else’s life, but also brighten your day and improve your sense of self-worth. An Emory University study found that being kind to another person lights up your brain’s pleasure and reward centres – a phenomenon called the “helper’s high”.
Have a blue sky day
New year’s resolutions may be a cliché, but it makes sense to use the year-end to reflect on 2021, look at what you’ve achieved, and decide what needs to change in 2022. If you have been battling to find a healthy work-life balance, you may want to take a step back and ask yourself what you could do better in the new year. Is it time to address your sleeping habits, rethink unrealistic expectations or move on from a culture of long working hours, for example? A mental pause will give you a chance to root out the issues that are causing the most stress in your life, so you can find ways to adjust your mindset and approach going forward.
Come what may, we hope you can carve out some time to relax and recharge your batteries over the festive break.
Remember: if you can be anything, be kind – especially to yourself!
Wishing you and your family a safe festive season from all of us at Obelisk Support.