If the pressure always seems to be building, a few thoughts on trying to build in a bit of headspace for yourself – and feel free to leave your own.

Hello and welcome to Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters. This is our little bit of the Film Stories site where we talk about – as you might have guessed! – mental health and wellbeing.

If you’ve not read one of these pieces before, it’s a place where we write about things that may be affecting you, us, or people around us. We work on simple rules: not every article we run is going to be of use to everyone, but hopefully across this series, there’s something that’s of use to you. And also, comments are very welcome, and appreciated.

This week? Aside from the scorching heat aside, we’re just chatting about pressure. Not massive amounts of the stuff, but a slow drip. The constant feeling that you need to be doing something, that people are expecting you to do something, and that if you don’t do something then everything will go wrong. It’s tied in this case often to some degree of anxiety, but either way, it does tend to be an enemy of sleep, of relaxation, of simply switching off.

Firstly, we should acknowledge that some people genuinely work well with pressure. They enjoy it, it’s how they get from A to B, and if that works for you, fair enough. This article is going to be even less use than usual!

But if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t necessarily thrive on pressure, but finds themselves in its crosshairs, just a few ideas to lighten the load, even a little bit.

Be realistic

Is it you putting the pressure on yourself a little? Are you setting some ideal that’s impossible to reach? If so, try and step back from that if you can. Perfection is an impossible goal, however frustrating that may be. The pursuit of it can be exhausting. Or is it others? Asking for things that you can’t easily do? As best you can, try and say no every now and then.

Can you offload things?

A lot of pressure, both from home and work, comes from having a to-do list. There’s something to the thought that it’s busy people who attract being asked for a favour, or an extra job, because whoever’s asking knows it’s more likely to get done. Try, if you can, to say ‘I’m going to struggle to fit that in’ or ‘I’m a bit overloaded at the moment’. And if you are, is there someone you can ask to help? Or can you get a deadline extended? Anything to stop the relentlessness of things.

Book a break, and tell people when it is

A holiday, to be clear in these times of cost of living pressures, doesn’t have to be a luxury cruise around the world. A holiday can be four days locked in your room playing Fortnite. But the thing is to set a boundary. To tell people you’re on a break. To switch work notifications off. It’s harder with family, obviously, but for work, it’s worth doing.

Talk to friends and family

Appreciating we all have different circumstances, and it’s not always easy, but finding someone to externalise what’s going on in your head can be a real help. Again, it doesn’t work for everyone, and it hinges on finding someone you trust. But if you can, a bit of offloading can work wonders.

Find your release valve

Finally, what is it that you like to do? What makes you happy? Can you trade off all the pressure you’re holding for everyone else by occasionally treating yourself? Maybe play sport, or watch music, or something that lets you shout and scream without people alerting the authorities. Find something, and do your best to enjoy it.

Any further suggestions, as always, are appreciated. You all take care, and this column will return next week…

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