You don’t need us to tell you that last year was stressful. In fact, I think we all had enough stress last year for the rest of our lives! As we head into 2021, on one hand it’s a time of hope – when new resolutions are going to be made and goals are going to be set. On the other, a new year can invite further anxiety as we reflect what we did, or in some cases, didn’t achieve in the previous year. We spoke to Gemma Perlin, an accredited behavioural change coach to advise us on how best to reduce our new year stress and to go into 2021 with a fresh outlook. Gemma works one-on-one with individuals to overcome personal and professional challenges and helps them to thrive.


Which Type of New Year Stress Are You Struggling With?

#1 The pressure to achieve 

#2 Resolution fatigue

#3 Comparison culture

#4 Worrying about the future



Section 1



1.”I feel like I haven’t achieved anything this year because of COVID. Now, I feel like there’s double the pressure to go above and beyond in 2021 and I’m not sure I can do it.”



Gemma: Please know that if you have managed to get through this year, that this is enough. Take a moment and acknowledge how hard it has been for you, your loved ones and the world. It would have been impossible to get through 2020 without feeling stressed and worried. Everyone experienced different losses and challenges in 2020. With the government rules ever-changing, it’s about finding stability within your own experience and finding small joys in each day where we can.

Start with where you are right now in your emotional and physical health. What might you like to start doing, which might make a positive impact on you and those around you? It can just be moving the needle by 1%.

In the weeks ahead, what small things can you do that will boost your physical and mental wellbeing? Write a list and aim to do one thing for yourself every day.



Section 2



2.”I always give myself such huge new year resolutions and never achieve them, which leaves me feeling awful. I feel like I should have big goals to focus on, though.”



Gemma: I’m going to immediately challenge the ‘should’. Who said that you ‘should’ do that? Who is ‘influencing’ you to feel that way? Is it the media? Your colleagues? Friends? I invite you to notice where this energy is coming from and tune in selectively. Instead I ask you to consider what is really important to you this year – what are your intentions? Think about whether the goals you feel pressured to set are an expression of your core values.

If you look forward to the next year, what do you want to feel and how do you want your life to look? Know what you want but also what you don’t want. With my clients at the moment, we aren’t looking at massive goals which might not be feasible in the current climate, but what qualities you would like to bring to the year ahead. Is there a word that conjures that feeling up for you? Post it on a piece of paper above your computer to have a visual anchor of that intention.



Section 3



3.”I’m constantly comparing myself to my colleagues and peers and I’m already worried about not getting as ahead as they are in the new year. How can I stop feeling like this?



Gemma: How would you like to feel? As long as you focus on what you don’t want you will have it. Close your eyes, don’t think about a white teddy bear, all you can think about is that right? The same with not worrying about the year ahead.  How would you like to feel at work? Empowered? Confident? When have you deployed these qualities in the past? How did it feel, what could you see, what could you hear?

How will you know when you have achieved it? What specifically will you be seeing and hearing when you are achieving being successful in your job.

In addition, can you communicate with your colleagues, ask them how they are feeling and check- in regularly? Their experiences might be closer to yours than you imagine. If you feel concerned about not meeting expectations, what can you do to confirm that you have met them. You can be really direct and ask your line manager for clarification on exactly what they expect from you.



Section 4



4. “2020 was supposed to be ‘my year’ and it has been anything but. Now, I’m really not inspired to make anything of myself in 2021, in case it goes wrong.



Gemma: Firstly please know that the way you are feeling makes complete sense, it has been a year of tragedy and disappointments and you need to let yourself mourn that.

When you feel overwhelmed with this feeling, nudge your consciousness to the present, even if you are just making a cup of tea, re-align the internal dialogue with what you are doing.

Moving forward, I ask you to  accept that the only real control you have in life is how you choose to respond to events. What would it feel like to pretend to act without fear? How would you behave? What would you do? How would your 2021 look? It is quite expansive isn’t it?

Things will go wrong, but it is your own resources that will make the difference. We all have latent abilities and capacities that have grown from difficult circumstances and I have no doubt yours  have developed from the last year. Do you need to deploy some of your own resources a bit more, for example resilience, find an external reminder that you can use to check in with that quality.

As we go into the new year, personally for me it is all about boundaries across the board! I struggle with being able to create boundaries from my own wellbeing to the tragedies happening around me. I need to allow myself to enjoy one of those sunny very cold blue sky walks in the park despite the deep strain and trauma our health system and workers are under. I put huge pressure on myself in my work, to my clients or to my loved ones, to always reply quickly whether that is dawn or dusk. This year I want to create boundaries, we may all still be at home, but I am allowed to be at home and not be accountable.

Gemma works with individuals across a range of different industries to build their confidence, overcome phobias and create actionable plans to increase their quality of life. She helps individuals connect deeply with themselves and their true intention, using a range of specialist Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques.


During these challenging times, this January, Gemma is offering 25% off coaching sessions as a New Year’s offer. You can get in touch through her website.

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