Reduce your stress with your New Year's resolutions


You may have already written your list of resolutions for the New Year, but if you haven't it's still not too late. One of the biggest problems people have with keeping their resolutions though stems from them being unrealistic - which condemns them to failure before the year has even got started.

This can add to many New Year stresses, such as returning to work or perhaps figuring out that tax bill, or anything else we've put off over the Christmas period.

Making resolutions can provide a real sense of purpose, but you have more chance of achieving them if they are realistic - and not too rigid. You should be looking to achieve smaller goals along the way to the main one, which helps keep you motivated and greatly increases your chances of achieving what you set out to do.

There are a few rigid style resolutions below that might make you feel stressed if you can't achieve them:

• I will get to bed by 10.00 pm

• I will go to the gym five times a week

• I will stop eating junk food

• I will stop drinking alcohol.

Instead, you might have more success with the more flexible and achievable alternatives below:

• I will try to get to bed earlier at least three times a week

• I will aim to go to the gym twice a week and gradually increase this

• I will aim to eat five portions a day of fruit or vegetables and cut down on high-calorie snacks

• I will aim to reduce the amount of alcohol I drink to the recommended guidelines.

Some people find putting one or two resolutions that focus on stress reduction at the top of the list can help them stick to their other goals.

Top stress-busting resolutions

Getting more sleep

Feeling sleep-deprived can make it harder to deal with stress, so it's important you are able to get enough good-quality sleep each night. You may find that your mood, short-term memory and motivation are affected when you don't sleep well, so you should try to ensure your sleeping pattern is a good one.

Most importantly you need to have a comfortable mattress and pillows in a cool, calm room. If you're worried about anything before you go to sleep, it might help if you write it down and then try to forget about it until the morning.

Get in the mood for sleep by allowing time to relax and avoiding too much mental stimulation - think books instead of screens. Aromatherapy is helpful for many - try lighting a scented lavender candle or burning some chamomile or clary sage oil.

Stay on top of your finances

Many of our stresses come from our financial circumstances. If yours are a little out of line, you shouldn't ignore them but you can't panic either as this only leads to more stress.

Calmly and honestly work out how much money you owe and which are the most urgent debts. Deal with those first, and then work out how you are going to deal with less urgent ones afterwards. Most importantly, communicate with your creditors and make payment arrangements such as spreading your payments over a longer period - they would much rather have a constructive dialogue than not hear from you at all. You may well be surprised at how willing they are to agree to your repayment proposals.

If you need help, try contacting your local Citizens Advice Bureau or visit their website at http://www.adviceguide.org.uk

Keep your diet healthy

Look to eat more fruit and vegetables and drink more water while cutting out foods high in fat, sugar and caffeine. This will give you more energy and help to keep you feeling positive

Exercise more often

Regular exercise will increase your sense of wellbeing , manage your stress hormones and help you to feel more positive about yourself and your other resolutions.

Make some time for yourself

Relaxing won't necessarily eliminate the reasons behind your anxiety, but it's a great way of relieving stress symptoms and keeping you calm. It will also help you to step away from the situation in order to find ways to solve your problems. Deep breathing can help, as can yoga, t'ai chi or Pilates classes.