Savage law: overcoming post holiday blues

Encore’s agony uncle Chris Savage tackles your agency dilemmas in his weekly advice column.

Hi Chris,

I’ve been back in the office for less than a week after a relaxing holiday break and my stress levels are already higher than before I left. I’m tempted to give my notice. Should I quit or just put this down to post-holiday comedown?

Quit? QUIT??? Are you made of putty? Listen: business is tough. It is always tough. And hear this: it is going to get tougher and tougher. That’s the way of the world. Pressure is a constant and rather than quit, get really, really good at managing the pressure and managing the stress. Your next job is going to be equally stressful (unless you become a monk, right). So work on your resilience rather than your CV.

Now, I am no expert on stress management techniques. But I have managed to build a pretty resilient persona, remembering that in my role (and most senior leadership roles), almost every phone call and meeting is about an issue, problem, or bad news. As you climb the corporate ladder, the issues tend to be the same, it’s just the amount of money involved that gets bigger.

Your most powerful weapon in managing stress is your mindset and how you choose to respond to what happens to you. Learn to breathe deeply, and often. And ensure you add the right stress release moments in your week. It used to be alcohol and tobacco for me. Not good.

Now it’s exercise. That’s a better choice. But I am no expert. Buy some books. Search online. It’s all there for you.

Point is: stress and pressure is a natural part of being in business. The key is to keep working at ways to manage stress and to keep it at a healthy level for you – whatever your level might be.

Chris Savage is the chief operating officer of STW Group. His blog, Wrestling Possums with Chris Savage, can be found at

This feature first appeared in the tablet edition of Encore. To download click on the links below.


  1. Hoot
    13 Feb 13
    4:34 pm

  2. Bollocks to that! I had high blood pressure and massive stress in my previous role. I found a new job for slightly less cash but way less hours and hassle. I feel amazing, I see more of the people I love and my life hasn’t been this balanced and awesome in years.

    If your work is making you miserable, don’t ask, “What’s wrong with me?” ask, “What’s wrong with this job?” Life’s too short to waste it burning out at work.

  3. One Life
    14 Feb 13
    10:32 am

  4. If you get holiday blues, then you need to find a new job. A job is part of your life and you should really enjoy it. Look around until you find a job you love and make sure it fits in with your life and not the other way around.

    In this technology age corporate bollox is slowly fading away. Offices are becoming obsolete and slave drivers are getting found out.

  5. bob is a rabbit
    14 Feb 13
    10:51 am

  6. Set the terms at the outset…interview stage 1. I did. My previous two roles, before the interview even got going, I put on the table two things that weren’t negotiable. Salary and Work/Life balance (that’s right for me). Then, I politely asked whether either would be a problem, and if so, then I wouldn’t waste their time by proceeding with the interview.

    If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

    On another note, I really believe if you’re working late every night, stressed-out and unhappy, then one of two things is happening…

    1. Your employer is taking the piss
    2. You’ve reached your level of incompetence and should re-think your role.

  7. GC
    14 Feb 13
    4:03 pm

  8. idk Chris I think being a Monk would be kind of stressy all that itchy wool and cold breezy stone and silence.

    Have to say though Dear Reader if you’re being battered by the wooden oar of work-life there is nothing better for you to read than Martin Seligman’s book Authentic Happiness. The best.