It’s so easy to start the New Year with good intentions but one stressful day in can see those resolutions go up in smoke. According to new research from AXA*, four out of five Brits could be suffering burnout as a result of stress – be that work worries, family troubles, financial woes…
In the fast-paced world that we live in, with 24/7 access to the internet/social media etc, the nation, the research claims, is in the grip of a stress epidemic, with 82% of Britons feeling stressed at least some of the time during a typical week, with almost a tenth of us (8%) feeling stressed all of the time.
The findings, which form part of AXA’s Stress Index, based on a survey of 4,000 UK adults, also reveals that pressure at work, financial worries and concerns about health are the most common causes of stress.
Where it all began
• The New Year marks the start of the new Gregorian calendar and although it is now essentially a secular tradition, ancient Babylonians would offer vows to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.
• The Romans also began each year by making promises to the god Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions after whom the month of January is named (he is usually depicted with two faces, one looking to the future and one looking to the past).
• Medieval knights took the ‘peacock vow’ at the end of the Christmas season each year to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry. The concept is generally understood to represent an opportunity to improve.
You’ve paid the gym membership, got the latest trainers, are all decked out in your gear and bursting with good intentions…however you may be surprised to learn that a staggeringly large percentage of New Year gym newbies give up by Easter.
Getting fitter simply because it’s the start of a new year is not the way to approach it. Choose a sport/pursuit that you enjoy and set yourself realistic goals – unreal expectations are almost certain to end in disappointment.
Workout with a friend or family member – you can encourage each other along the way – and treat your fitness regime as something that will be part of your long-term lifestyle and not just another passing fad!
• Check out our A-Z of sport for inspiration from page 71 in the January mag.
It’s Never Too Late To Learn
From tots to pensioners, there are so many opportunities for us to learn new skills – and age should be no barrier. If you simply want to brush up on a language or learn to paint, play chess or take a course in gardening, local colleges, libraries and leisure centres are invaluable sources of help.
Also check out the Open University (www.open.ac.uk); University of the Third Age (www.u3a.org.uk for your local group); www.gov.uk
The key is to pick something you want to learn rather than something you feel you should learn. So if you always wanted to learn to dance, paint, or learn about the stock market…just do it.
You can also combine your hobby with a holiday. Many companies specialise in a particular interest, while others offer a range of options, both at home and abroad.
Today’s always-on-the-go fast-paced environment with its fluid working patterns and emphasis on electronic gadgets and social media often makes it difficult for families to spend quality time together.
Now’s the ideal time for the whole family to sit down together and work out some strategies to make life more fun, productive and less stressful.
• Sit down and eat together at least three times per week.
• Turn off the TV and ban laptops, tablets and mobile phones from the dining table.
• Make time to read with younger children every day. Research shows that reading with your child each day is the single most important thing you can do for their education.
• Make time to talk and listen to each other.
• Check out Change4Life (part of the NHS) website which can help families make changes to their lifestyles so that they can eat well, move more and live longer.
There’s a real low point in January when the bills hit the doormat and the reality of paying for Christmas sets in! Money can be the root of some of our greatest stress as well as being regularly cited at one of the most common reasons people argue.
When it comes to getting your finances in order, goal-setting and budgeting are key. Write down your goals/what you want to achieve by year end – this will help you stay on track – and talk about them to those closest to you.
Review your expenditure regularly against a budget and see where you can make savings. Make sure you are on the best deal. Check out comparison websites, which offer information on everything from the best savings accounts to travel insurance and utility bills.
• Visit the free and impartial Money Advice Service (0800 138 7777, www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) set up by the government, for help with everything from debt and borrowing, homes and mortgages to work and benefits and more.
Dancing is a great way for people of all ages to get and stay in shape. Besides being fun, dancing has many positive health benefits. Certain styles of dance can have a tremendous impact on your overall flexibility, strength and emotional wellbeing.
Depending on your goals, a dance class could be a fun way to improve your health – as well as an ideal opportunity to meet new people. So from jazz, ballet, modern and tap to hip-hop, ballroom, belly dancing and Scottish Country dancing, there’s never been a better time to pull on your dancing shoes!
Stuck in a dead-end job? Frustrated that you’ve been over-looked for promotion? There’s nothing more certain to have us sorting out issues in our working life as sure as the dawn of a new year. But before you look for a new role or get set to improve your current one, consider:
• What you enjoy
• What you’re good at
• What are your interests and values
• What are your transferable skills
• What are you looking for? A new role after a break or redundancy? Part-time, full-time, flexibility, variety or autonomy?
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good CV. Employers take just 30 seconds to decide whether or not they like you – on paper at least. It should be no more than two pages and full of strong statements and positive language.
Keep abreast of vacancies in your chosen location by signing up for email alerts from dedicated job websites such as www.jobsinkent.com; www.kentjobs.co.uk; www.kent.gov.uk, and those advertised in local media/on websites.
Make It Legal
Get your legal house in order. From making a will to setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney, are your loved ones protected if anything unforeseen happens to you or your family?
If you’re cohabiting, get some legal agreements in place regarding finances and property so that everyone is covered should the relationship break down.