It’s December! And we all know what that means. Studying for finals, holiday preparations, dealing with family, enduring the end-of-the-year rush at work, making plans for next year, putting your finances in order and stress, lots of stress.
Sure, you are a busy person, you deal with stress all year round and you probably have a few ways of your own to cope with it, but there’s something about the end of the year that makes everything worse. So, how can you deal with it all without crumbling under the overwhelming pressure?
The first step: go outside. “But Blossy”, you say “it’s so cold outside, can’t I just hibernate in my bed until Spring comes around?”. No. No you can’t, because that is probably one of the most unhealthy ways to deal with stressful situations.
It can be really tempting to curl up under a blanket and hide from the world until all those problems go away, or until you feel better, but the truth is that sleeping too much is counterproductive. Studies have shown that oversleeping will increase your levels of lethargy, which will make it harder to focus and keep yourself motivated to deal with your stressors.
And no matter how much you rationalize that you “need a breather” and that you “deserve a day for yourself”, staying inside doing nothing is doing yourself a disservice. You’ll feel demotivated and you’ll end up dwelling on your problems, which will make you feel worse.
On the other hand, studies have shown that being in contact with nature will help lower your blood pressure and your cortisol levels, in other words, your stress. What’s even better, Vitamin D from the sunlight will elevate your levels of serotonin, making you feel better. If it’s cold where you live, invest in a good set of winter clothes. Find warm shoes, comfy insulating pants and a snuggly, warm jacket to brave the cold more comfortably.
It will make you feel better, I promise. Take a walk through a park or a nearby trail, take up jogging or biking. Bonus: exercise has been proven time and time again to be a great way to cope with stress, anxiety and depression. Endorphins are a hell of a drug, you’ll feel happier, more relaxed, you’ll sleep better and you’ll have more energy to face the day, all that on top of getting your body summer-ready before everyone else, ha!
Don’t ignore the problem. While it’s normal and healthy to take a break once in a while to call a friend, read a book, take a bath or relax in your favorite way, actively avoiding the problem is, you guessed it, counterproductive. No matter how scary it is to deal with some stressors, pushing them away until the last possible minute is unhealthy, and will bring you even more stress later on.
For starters, avoiding the problem doesn’t mean that you are not thinking about it, and the constant weight of the unresolved issue will strain your mind. Furthermore, not dealing with a problem can make it worse in the long run. So don’t fall on the trap of “taking a breather” for too long. Call for help, get your friends, family or partner to support you, and make a plan of action. Then, and this is the hard part, actually follow through with it. The relief once it’s done will be priceless.