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7 Easy ways to manage year-end stress

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The end of the year brings happy and sunny vacations, and during these months we get to spend quality time with friends and family. But before we get to our well-deserved holiday, it can be a mad rush to get up to date on all our work. From insurance companies to business people, to working moms and dads, to school kids – the last months of the year are a busy time for everyone.

Year-end stress can take a toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing. You can experience headaches, sleepless nights, depression, anxiety, and many other uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms. But can you do anything to help ease the pressure of these final months?

Yes you can, and it’s easier than you thought. Read on to find out how to give your tired body and mind a break before the holidays start:

1. Get your beauty rest  

It’s easy to get into a stress-related insomnia cycle; you can’t sleep because you’re so stressed and have so much work to do, but being tired makes you more stressed out, compounding the problem. When your holiday is probably still more than a month away, you might wonder if you’re going to have to sleep walk your way through the next few weeks as you work tirelessly to get all of your work done.

If your insomnia persists, it might be best to see your doctor, but in the meantime, there are ways to relax at night and get a decent night’s sleep that you can do in your own home:

• As strange as it may sound, breathing can help to relax you and get your mind and body into a state that is ready for sleep. Most of us take short, shallow breaths and don’t really concentrate on or think about how we breathe, but this can have adverse effects on our health. Taking deeper breaths can improve your wellbeing and relax you. You can find a guide on how to breathe properly here.

• Don’t drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks before bed. In fact, some studies suggest that having caffeine up to six hours before bed can disrupt your sleep. So while you may be drinking energy drinks to be at peak working performance at the office, it’s not doing you any favours in the long term.

• Do activities before bed that relax you, such as reading, light yoga, and even listening to soft, light music.

2. Plan every day

For many of us, our working days are a chaotic series of plugging holes in the dam wall and running from one crisis to the next, and this just creates more stress for us. We get into work and the first thing we do is check our emails, which typically ends up in responding to others’ requests and not getting our own important work done until later in the day, if at all.

There are loads of reasons why checking your email first thing in the morning is a bad idea, such as killing your productivity and creating unrealistic expectations for you from your co-workers.

One way to tackle this problem is to make a plan each day before you leave the office of exactly what you need to get done the next day. If there is something on that list that is urgent, put everything else on the back burner. Even if your co-worker has asked you to do something urgently for him, ask yourself if it really can wait until your own priorities are sorted out. Making a plan and sticking to it is just about the best defence you have against an unproductive day.

And making set plans can help a lot at home, too. At this time of the year, your kids are busy too with tests or exams, and helping them manage their schedules can provide much-needed stress relief for everyone. Make a calendar with all tests and extramural activities and hang it in a place that everyone sees every day. You can make it fun for the kids by using stickers or coloured pens to differentiate activities or to mark reminders beforehand. This way, rather than late-night panic studying, your kids (and you) can get a good night’s sleep knowing that they’re well-prepared for their English test.

3. Run for your health

Exercise is an excellent stress-reliever for young and old. But popping into gym before or after work is not always possible when you need to drop the kids off at school or work late hours. Besides, even though we know it’s good for us, it can be hard to motivate ourselves to exercise simply for the sake of it.

If you find it difficult to go to the gym, an excellent way to get regular exercise is to join a sporting league or group activity that you enjoy. Team sports have numerous benefits for children and adults; they improve overall quality of life and are a brilliant way to make friends.

4. Laugh it out

Laughing has wonderful effects on your body, one of which is acting as a stress buster. It can also stimulate your circulation, increase your oxygen intake, and even act as a pain reliever.

5. Just say no

At times it can feel as though everyone wants something from you, and you find yourself agreeing to help even if you don’t have the time. But eventually you will either have to say no, or you’re going to disappoint someone because you’re only one person and there are only 24 hours in a day. Think of it like this: If you say yes to a request, how much stress is that task going to create? Then decide if the stress is worth it. If not, it’s fine to say no, or at the very least, give the person who asked a reasonable timeline of when you can manage it.

6. Quality time

Spending meaningful time with friends and family that you love is like an instant pick-me-up. Having a laugh with an old friend or playing games with your children can do a lot to de-stress you. Loved ones can also help you feel better because you can talk about your problems, giving you a healthy release for your stress.

7. Compartmentalise your life

Leaving work at work is important but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do in a world where we’re on call all the time and we regularly take our work home. But even if you have to bring your work home, once you’ve snapped your laptop shut or replied to that last email, put up a wall in your mind that separates it from your home life until the next day. Enjoy your family’s company and be in the moment to make the most of your time with them.

Dialdirect understands that time is short in our fast-paced modern life, which makes coping with stress even tougher. That’s why we’re changing the way people manage their insurance with our online policy management system. You can submit a claim, add new members to your policy, and more.

We’ve also made it easy to get insurance quotes in your own time with our Easy Build quote system. It’s our way of giving you back a little of the precious time you work so hard to earn.