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New Year: 4 tips for handling stress

By Homewood Health - Dec 30th 2015
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As soon as the clock strikes 12, people around the world welcome another new year with cheering and champagne toasts—then the resolutions follow. Usually, these include common goals such as losing weight or making a career move. However, committing to a year of better stress management is a resolution that rarely gets the limelight.

Here are 4 science-backed tips to handle stress in the new year:

1. Master the art of problem-solving. In terms of stress, problem-solving relates to identifying stressful situations and developing coping strategies to handle them as they arise. The Mayo Clinic suggests being specific and focusing on precise issues you can realistically control or change. To decide whether or not a problem is worth the time you’ll spend solving it, the Mayo Clinic suggests asking these questions: “Is the problem reallythat big? Would others think so? If you could solve this problem, would your life improve? Is there any part of the problem over which you have control?” Once you’ve evaluated your answers, set out to brainstorm solutions that will ease your current issue.

2. Partake in social support. A social support network is a group of family, friends, and co-workers who are able to lend support when you need to talk. Though public support groups offer similar benefits, the upside to a social support network is your ability to use it without a scheduled meeting or facilitator; a coffee break will do. According to the Mayo Clinic, social support offers three major benefits: a sense of belonging, increased self-worth, and a feeling of security. To help build your social network, consider joining a gym, volunteering, or meeting with a group who shares an affinity for your favourite hobby.

3. Avoid last minute plans and projects. Whether it’s something like hosting a party or creating a work presentation, you should allow yourself plenty of time to prepare. Putting things off allows for much more room for error, which in turn makes it easy to think negatively. Studies also show that people who procrastinate typically have more stress and a lesser quality of well-being. Draw up a weekly schedule that includes both your personal life and obligations, then, stick to it to avoid surprises

4. Use physical defenses. According to Health Canada, a handful of stress and anxiety symptoms are physical—so it only makes sense to prepare your body to handle them before they become unbearable. Start by changing poor eating habits and maintaining a healthy diet, and keep energy-boosting snacks around (such as nuts or fruit). Then, limit caffeine and alcohol, which are stimulants for panic attacks and anxiety, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada. Though it’s proven to help manage stress, less than 40% of Canadians currently choose exercise to help ease their symptoms of stress and anxiety. To help clear your mind and recharge your muscles, add a form of exercise to your weekly schedule.

Anxiety and stress affect everyone differently and with varying levels of severity. Because of this, there is no one way to cope with stress, but these approaches may help you deal with the challenges you face this year.