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With each new year we make resolutions, reflect on the past and pledge new starts. Although it is easy to leave some things behind in the previous year there are other things that are a little harder to forget about. Whether these are financial problems, a demanding job or difficulties at home they can cause stress at the time that you are trying to make a new start.
Stress is what you feel when you come into contact with a stressor and your body responds in a way that prepares it for a challenge. This is when you get set up for the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response where your body is prepared to either fight the threat or run away from it! Even though the stressors in your life are unlikely to be something that you would physically run away from (I hope that this is unlikely anyway...) with something like a debt problem you need the energy to either face it or hide from it.
There are ways in which you can take these stressors and deal with them in a relaxed way rather than getting into an even more stressful situation. One of the first steps to leading a stress-free life is working out the main causes of your stress. It is important to know exactly what it is that is causing you the most stress as it can be easy to put the blame elsewhere rather than focussing on the main problem. You could track this using a stress journal which could also help you to recognise whether you are doing things to make your stress worse. For example procrastinating, avoiding the issue or hiding the problem from people who you should confide in.
There are plenty of things that you can try which are known to help reduce stress when everything gets a bit overwhelming. Exercise is a great way to defeat stress and something as simple as a walk outside could help you to clear your head; exercise also helps to deplete the stress chemicals that your body produces and encourages the production of endorphins which make you happy.
Meditation, tai chi and yoga are also great stress relievers as they help you to clear your mind and feel in control. There are lots of types of meditation to choose from so there is sure to be one to suit you!
One final tip for getting rid of your stress is to talk to someone about your worries. A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say, and quite often you will get some helpful advice or realise that the issue that is stressing you out is not as bad as it seems!
By Sasha Davison
3rd January 2014
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