We’ve all been there…we feel the tightening in our chest, making it difficult to breathe…our mind tumbling and tripping over itself.
We try to focus. We know we need to, if we are to get through the situation, or crisis…but it all feels overwhelming and uncontrollable.
So how do we pull ourselves together and face our situation…deal with it, or overcome the moment?
I realize that we are all individuals, with different takes of how to deal with our problems. But are we really that different? We all have hopes and dreams, fears and worries. We all have our moments of hesitation and lack of confidence.
What if we share our ideas with each other…inspire each other…encourage each other? What works for one of us, may just work for another. Maybe you have a strategy that works for you that I’ve never thought to try.
My hope is that if I share a few of my tried and true solutions that work for me, maybe you will share some of your own strategies that works for you. And soon we’ll all have a collection of new ideas to try the next time that panic button threatens to activate itself.
Scene: You are rushing out the door, leaving late for an important meeting. You jump in the car and head out to the highway, anxiety gripping you. You are going to be late. You watch the needle on the speedometer rise as your foot presses the gas pedal further…further. If only you can get past this slower traffic and manage to make up some lost time…
Solution: This is my toughest one. I hate being late. But even with the best laid plans, life happens. The moment I feel these symptoms take hold, I make myself take a long, slow deep breathe, exhaling out all that tension. I switch my music to something mellow, and mindfully relax my body back into the seat, relaxing my grip on the steering wheel. Then I run the following mantra through my mind: “I will get there, when I get there. It’s going to be better to arrive late then to not arrive at all because I’ve crashed, or worse yet, caused an accident with another driver. It will all work out. It’s not worth a human life.”
I can’t tell you how many times this has worked out…the other person is also late, or caught in traffic, and I end up being there first anyway. Of course, if you find yourself in this scenario every time you head out the door–you need to work on the root of that problem (we’ll cover that in the future).
Scene: The phone keeps ringing, the emails steadily pour in and I find myself hop-scotching from one task to another with constant reminders along the way of a myriad of other tasks yelling for attention in the background. I’m beginning to run in a circle and not accomplish much of anything…how can I possibly get all this done?!
Solution: I take a walk. Yep…no matter what chores are facing me, when I feel myself at that tipping point…the panic button staring at me, I get up and take a 15-minute walk outside. I know this sounds like an impossible solution, but I repeatedly learned this lesson from my many jobs in Corporate America. Every year I watched my co-workers skip lunch, because they were just too busy to take a break. I learned to never skipped lunch, no matter how hectic my day, because I realized over and over again that no matter how crazy my day had been, when I took a break from it and went back with a fresh perspective, it miraculously seemed far less daunting than it had just moments before. I was able to quickly make up and pass where I would have been if I’d stayed behind and continued to work–in that much less efficient manner.
So when you feel yourself reaching for that panic button–stop. Go outside. Use all your senses to experience nature. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face or the invigorating cool air. Listen to the birds chirping and insects buzzing around you, or the silence of a winter day. Embrace the colors of the season, look–really look at the lush, vivid blooms of flowers, the trees swaying in the breeze, the rich, coppery autumn leaves crunching at your feet, the sparkling, pristine snow…take in whatever your day has to offer and savor it to the fullest.
You’ll be amazed at what 15 minutes can do. When you get back to your office, I guarantee you’ll have a better view of the work to be finished, you’ll see a clear game plan and have the renewed energy to attack the tasks with new vigor.
Another Solution (added 10/17/14): Since writing this original blog, I’ve found a couple of additional solutions that work well for me and wanted to share them with you. Although these wouldn’t help you in the work place – they are good at home. When I find myself getting stressed out about all that I need to accomplish that day, I know I need to stop the cycle, but just telling myself that doesn’t always work. So when I can’t mentally calm myself down, I’ve found that making my muscles relax (which are also tense), tends to break the cycle. A hot, relaxing shower (even if it’s a short one) relaxes those shoulders and back muscles and the water running over my body is good therapy. Also, laying down with a warm heating pad across my chest relaxes those tight muscles and forces my body to relax. Once the body is more relaxed, I can get my mind to relax as well. Hope you find it helpful!