On our quest to be successful professional people we will be challenged by a multitude of obstacles. One of our main obstacles from achieving greatness can often be ourselves.
The human brain is an incredible tool. It has helped us: master flight, talk instantly to each other from anywhere on the planet and to walk on the moon. Our brains also have built in survival mechanisms that have helped to keep us alive throughout humanity’s existence. An important one being the ‘fight or flight’ (F&F) response to stressful situations.
When F&F kicks in your heart rate starts to rise and adrenaline gets pumped into your system, giving you super human type abilities to move quicker, stronger and more aggressively. Now a hundred thousand years ago when we were on the savannah and we were face to face with a sabretooth tiger, this type of instinctive reaction could come in handy to make sure you didn’t end up as lunch.
The problem is, this tool from our prehistoric past is very rarely needed in modern society and there’s virtually no need for it in the office environment. One of the negative aspects of the F&F response is it takes over the prefrontal cortex of our conscious decision-making part of the brain, making us say things we can regret, unchain our emotions and impulsively make poor decisions that are not evaluated.
Controlling our inner cave person and staying calm and composed in all situations in the office can mark you out as exceptional. These are the qualities we look for in our leaders and the best in class.
Former international Karate champion and movie star Chuck Norris famously said, ‘People are like steel, when they lose their temper, they lose their worth.
In this article we will explore our 6 Xtra Mile Tips to stay calm and deal with stress in the work place.
- Plan ahead
- Be self-aware
- Channel your energy
- Limit caffeine and drink water
- Learn to Disconnect
- Ask for help
By ‘failing to prepare you are preparing to fail’, as said Benjamin Franklin.
We’ve all been in that place where we are trying to work but we haven’t structured our day or time properly. We ‘bed down’ into the tasks and more work comes on top and it starts to feel like it’s overwhelming us and before we know it we cannot see a way through it, then confusion sets in accompanied by stress and panic.
Planning ahead can help manage your time and your work load. Break your day into time segments and put tasks into each segment, staying focussed on achieving each task.
Be realistic with your expectations and give yourself run over time for any obstacles you’ll need to navigate through.
If you are the type of person that is hot headed and can easily ‘fly off the handle’ then it’s time to do an audit on your emotions. You need to recognise what the ‘hot buttons’ are that trigger your fright and flight response and avoid these at all cost.
Just the fact that you will be consciously thinking about these switches will allow you to start creating new habits in your own personality and create coping mechanisms to work through situations before they become a problem.
Channel your energy
For many people channelling their physical energy into other positive areas will help professionals deal with stressful situations when they arise.
Exercising the body has several benefits both physically and mentally. The human body is made to be physical. Sitting at a desk behind a PC is a very modern activity and something our cave person self has not evolved to do yet.
So by joining the gym, running, cycling or walking, you will not only encourage muscle growth, exercise the heart and increase blood flow around the body and brain, but it also releases feel good endorphins into the body as a reward.
Often the accumulative effect of the exercise will help you have fresh perspective on issues you have been dealing with allowing you to approach them with a ‘new’ pair of eyes.
Limit Caffeine and drink water
Staying on the physical approach, the saying you are what you eat is true here also. When trying to avoid the F&F response you’d do well to avoid (or limit) the foods that can have an effect on your adrenal gland.
In this case we are talking caffeine which has links to having an impact on your internal mechanics. Caffeine is also a stimulant and with all stimulants it activates your central nervous system giving you a boost of energy. Like all things that go up though it must also come down, leaving you irritable, tired, low on energy and easy to provoke.
Water on the other hand can have the opposite effect of coffee allowing you to stay focussed and composed for longer avoiding the up and down nature of stimulants.
So ditch the coffee and fill up a reusable (because we only have one planet) water bottle.
Learn how to disconnect
Being able to disconnect from stress can be one of the strongest tools in your professional career. To have the ability to compartmentalise a problem you are working on and step back and to review it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do but there are some tricks of the trade that can help you with this.
Meditation is the art of letting go of all thoughts and concerns and just ‘being present’ in the moment. Now we are not suggesting you move to Tibet and take up a position in a monastery and the reality is you don’t need to. If you have never meditated before you can easily get into mindful meditation by downloading one of the many apps present in both Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store for Android. Saving that you could go on YouTube and search for Mindful Meditation; it’s all there for free to get you started.
If meditation isn’t your thing, why not give mindful breathing a go. Very similar to the mindful meditation process and much of what you’d learn from meditation is focussed around breathing, but this can be done anywhere and can come in handy when needing to disconnect from an activity.
Ask for help
When you can’t get your head around an issue or problem that needs solving and it is starting to lead to stress have you considered asking for help? This may seem blatantly logical to most people but sometimes it isn’t the easiest thing to do. Especially when you are the boss or you are trying to impress people. Here is something to consider though. What will look worse to your peers, staff or superiors. Doing the work and getting it wrong or asking for help and nailing the outcome?
We know all business owners prefer the employee that smashes success as opposed the one that falls short. The mindset to grow, evolve and love to learn is what business is built on and by being hungry to learn more, by asking for best practice from your colleagues, staff and/or superiors you will show you have the capacity and hunger to be more.
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