ASHBOURNE families are being urged to manage their stress levels now the festive season has come to an end.
January is widely recognised as the most stressful time of year as cold weather, economic gloom, and an end to Christmas celebrations all add to the pressure.
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure, and coupled with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, it is the reason for one in five visits to GPs, and can affect people from all walks for life.
The region’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has come up with ideas to help people cope with the increase in stress levels over the coming months.
Being active and making time to get involved in some type of sport often helps to reduce anxiety as well as having additional health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and weight.
Staying in control and finding ways to manage time effectively is another idea for feeling more capable, whether that is setting aside a couple of hours a week for ‘me’ time or making sure work does not encroach too often on personal activities.
Immersing yourself in a new challenge such as learning a different language or taking up a new hobby can help, as can giving up unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking too much.
Volunteer work is a good way to release tension; often you will be helping people a lot worse off than yourself, which can put your own problems into perspective.
Dr Sheila Newport, chairman of NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, said: “We all have mental health, like we all have physical health.
“Both change throughout our lives, and, like our bodies, our minds can become unwell.
“Mental health problems might actually be more common than you think, one in four of us will be affected by mental illness.
“The effects are as real as a broken arm, even though there isn’t a sling to show for it.
“Spotting the early signs of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and stop you adopting unhealthy coping methods such as drinking or smoking.
“There are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time-management techniques.”
More information on stress and how to manage it is available online at www.nhs.uk and search for ‘stress management’.