If you are someone who has a lower threshold for stress or you suffer with an on-going mental health issue then making a plan for how you will cope with difficult periods could help a great deal.  Below are a few suggestions of ideas that may help you if you know you are approaching a stressful time or event.

1.  Develop Your Support Network
Build friendships with people who you can be honest about your feelings with.  Look for people who can listen and who will respect your wishes and allow you to take things at your own speed.  Be aware that sometimes a problem needs fixing or solving and other times it just needs to be heard.  This is important as friends and family members will often  be more suited to one of these types of issues.  Knowing who will listen when you need to let off steam and who will help to fix the problem or motivate you into action can be extremely useful to know.  It will also save you a lot of frustration and help you to feel heard.

2.  Create an Emotional First Aid Kit
Find a shoe box or similar sized container and think about what kind of practical things you would find helpful when you are feeling stressed or mentally unwell.  Start putting these items together in your box and store it somewhere you can see and get to when you need it.  Remember that this is your kit so it doesn't need to make sense to others, it just needs to helpful for you.  You could include items like photographs, pictures, sweet treats, special bath and beauty products, herbal teabags, note paper and pen/pencil, art materials, games, puzzle books, a good book or two, scented oils, candles or room sprays and items that remind you of loved ones and that you are loved.  

3. Find Out about Support Services and How to Access Them
There are some excellent services available for people with mental health issues or who are struggling with stress.  Some of the key ones can be found in the useful websites section of this site.  A number of the big charities offer support via a helpline, face to face, email or text.  Check the sites and find what hours the service operates in and decide which services is going to be best for you.  Saneline also offer a service where you can sign up to receive a supportive text at a particular time.  All you need to do is provide them with your mobile phone number, a bit of information about the issue you are struggling with, your first name and when you would like to receive the text.  Other websites offer forums where you can sign up and join in with discussions with others who are experiencing similar difficulties as you.

4. Keep Some Simple, Easy to Prepare Meals in the House
When you are feeling stressed or mentally unwell you may not have the energy or motivation to cook, so keeping some easy meals in the house in preparation will help you to get through a difficult period.  Ready meals can be a good option and most supermarkets offer a wide range of options so you don't have to stick with the same thing night after night. Many offer healthier options or can be paired up with other foods like pasta, rice or vegetables.  Also stock up on some zip lock freezer bags so that you can store cut vegetables ready for use.  You can use these to supplement quick meals like pizzas and will provide you with a few more nutrients.  Also get some fruit in the house so that you have some healthy snack foods close to hand.  

5.  Make Sure You Have Enough Medication
If you take medication to help with your mental health get into a regular routine where you put in your repeat prescription requests in plenty of time so that you don't run out of medication.  Ideally put in your request when you are down to your last 7 days worth of medication.  Many pharmacies offer a prescription collection service where they collect your prescriptions from your doctors and  make them up ready for collection.  Some pharmacies also offer a prescription delivery service so this may be something that is worth investigating.  Allow extra time for getting prescriptions sorted out  around public holidays like Christmas and New Year.  Doctors surgeries and pharmacies will normally close for some of this period so you may need to put in any requests a bit earlier than usual.

6. Write a Personal Well Being Plan
Creating a well being plan in advance will help you to identify early warning signs and actions that you can take if you notice yourself becoming unwell or overstressed.  A well being plan should also help you to consider the role that professionals, friends and loved ones can play in helping you get through this period.  Don't forget to check out the well being plan worksheet here.  If possible, consider sharing copies of your plan with those close to you.  This can also provide you with the opportunity to talk about your worries and concerns and give others an insight into what you find helpful when you are struggling. Also keep a copy of this plan in with your emotional first aid kit.  This will give you some helpful pointers when you need them most.