If I had to think of a few words to describe myself, laidback wouldn’t be one of them. Anxious, worried or drama queen would be more likely. While my tendency to worry makes me driven, focused and hard working, it doesn’t help my stress levels which, at times, impact my physical and mental health.

As someone who is running a business, training for powerlifting competitions, writing a blog and active on social media, there is always something I could be doing. I wake up fully stressed, check Instagram before I get out of bed, battle traffic on route to my first session, bolt lunch, train intensely, rush to my evening clients, then finish the day with dinner at 10pm.

I’m grateful for my lifestyle and business, but this kind of carry on is a one-way ticket to burn out. If I don’t make time to relax it will impact my relationships and my ability to pursue my goals. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

So what am I doing? I’m making relaxation as much of a priority as food, fitness and sleep.

I’d be horrified at the idea of eating junk food or skipping gym sessions as this would affect my health. Yet too much stress has a similarly negative effect.

When we’re in a state of high stress, our bodies prioritise the generation of cortisol to help us deal with a crisis. If we’re in this state for a sustained period, it upsets our hormonal balance which, in turn, depletes our muscular strength (eek!), energy levels and leaves us vulnerable to illness. Redressing the balance with relaxation is crucial to health. Here are a few things I have vowed to make a habit of:

1. Let go. I’d love to win my next powerlifting competition, make the final of the UK Blog Awards and get my new website up and running by January, but I can only do so much. I give my best every day and that is good enough. Similarly, I cannot control how much traffic is on the road or if some a*hole at the gym is rude to me. I can, however, control my reaction to those things.

2. Prioritise. I’m culling the things that eat time, but bring little reward. I’ve put a cap on social media usage and reduced the area I cover for personal training. Taking a more organised approach and dealing with important jobs as they arise has also freed up more time.

3. Enjoy me time every day. Making time for simple pleasures has had more of an impact on my wellbeing than I could have imagined. Just reading a book for half an hour, going for coffee, or ensuring I get to yoga every week has made me more upbeat, improved my concentration and reduced my stress levels.

4. Keep a gratitude journal. Before I go to bed, I think of three things that have gone well that day or that I’m grateful for. This helps me see my life in a positive light and eases feelings of worry.

I’m a work in progress. A lifetime of worrying and over achieving won’t be cured in a week or two, but at least I’m self aware and trying to reduce my stress levels. I’m certainly not alone. Excessive stress is a common problem and a contributory factor in weight gain, insomnia and most health issues.

As we approach the Christmas period, it’s worth taking stock of how you spend your time and whether stress is a debilitating presence in your life. Improving our health doesn’t always mean doing more. There’s a time and a place for focus and hard work, but there’s also a time and a place for rest.