Watch out for stress – it’s only January!

Watch out for stress - it's only January!


It’s a new year and a chance to change bad overdrive and stressful habits or at least recognise when you are falling into stress traps like you did last year.

Stress can creep up on us and by the time we recognise it, the stress triggers have taken hold and pressure is building and we may be starting to feel unwell.

What starts the stress cycle for you?


Short-term factors


Very simple things can trigger stress and once we know the pattern we have a chance of putting a stop to it.

Running late – for meetings, appointments, deadlines, call backs… these may happen day-to-day but they create day-to-day stress that builds. And being late can become a habit. So decide now – is this comfortable or uncomfortable for you? How can you change this to deliver on time, be on time, feel good travelling on time?

Losing things – if you are someone constantly losing keys, phone, wallet – decide you willl no longer be that person and deliberately change. Get rid of that useless anxiety by consciously placing things in regular logical places and be tidy and organised, and the problem goes away, along with wasted anxious moments.

Presenting to a group – if these events make you anxious, make this the year to break through those fears and build positive “scripts for success” and skills to be a better presenter:

I will enjoy giving this presentation

I know my work and will show my enthusiasm

It’s a short talk and I will be well prepared with a strong beginning

Giving feedback – if you get anxious about telling someone about a performance issue at work… don’t be. They need to know ASAP and you need to stop building it up to be a bigger issue. Be factual, honest and find the path forward together. The sooner you build your feedback skills, the less anxious you will be when you need to give feedback.

Saying no – if you are being asked something unreasonable say no and explain the issues or impact on priorities. If you are anxious because you really should be saying yes… talk it through with something you trust. Don’t sit on it paralysed – it makes it worse.

Making a mistake – mistakes are the best way to learn. Often the fear is in anticipating the reaction. Share your mistakes with others and talk about what you have learned. The way you handle a mistake is usually far more important than the mistake itself.


Get help!


Internal factors

Common states that create more stress are constant anxiety, low self-esteem and unrealistic expectations of yourself.

If these or other internal issues are already present for you this year, see someone – a counsellor, a coach, a manager –  to talk through the issues and get some valued feedback, resolution and skills. The important thing is to decide to change and not accept this as normal.


Long-term factors

If you are living or working with constant conflict, relationship issues, financial issues, lacking skills, or maybe you are unemployed, or unwell … don’t battle by yourself. Find the right people to advise or counsel or support you.




Stress can bring you down


If these trigger events go unchecked, you will get stress symptoms – physical, emotional and mental symptoms that will ultimately impact your performance negatively. Ongoing stress is not healthy and when you preform badly because you are stressed this will make you feel more stressed. So the aim should be to remove the word stress from your thoughts and your work. If these thoughts jump into your head:

I feel stressed

This is all too hard

I am not coping


Rethink them and replace with these thoughts:

I will be calm

I can get help

I will get through this

Calm. Calm. Calm.



Use walking, talking, meditation, podcasts, sport … whatever it takes to combat stress now! Let’s all aim for a calm, productive year that is fun and enjoyable, and we stay as healthy as we can be.

Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace. See the rest of Eve’s blogs here. 



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