A major deadline is approaching tomorrow and you have to work late. Your babysitter just called saying that your daughter has a high fever and only wants “mommy” home. You feel overwhelmed and wish you could be cloned! But that’s impossible. So how do you sort things out and get a handle? Here are some ways to help you take back control from extreme stress.
When we feel this way, we often forget to breathe. When you notice your body tensing and mind racing, simply stop what you are doing. Take five slow, deep breaths. Taking a few moments to center yourself will help you find solutions to challenges that seem unmanageable.
Find your control
Write down the things that you can take action toward and the tasks needed to complete the work. You are breaking down seemingly daunting challenges into small, manageable actions. For example, if you are presenting a new marketing strategy to management in 24 hours, write down what is left to be accomplished: finalizing the appropriate flow charts and diagrams and conducting a run-through with your team. Get those done in the next two hours and make arrangements with the babysitter to be home by 6pm.
Flip your negative thinking
Ease your worry by catching yourself in negative mind-talk. When you indulge in it, you create stress that doesn’t even exist – and you don’t need that! Instead of convincing yourself you won’t make your deadline, think, “There is a solution and I am taking steps to find out what that is.” Good ideas are more likely to find you if you’re ready to let them in.
Be alert to practices that drain your energy and waste your valuable time. Trying to achieve unrealistic expectations will not put you down the path to success – it will only give you a headache. Give yourself a time limit to tackle each item on your list the best you can, then let go.
Ask for help
This is the time to call in any favors owed to you – and you’re surrounded by capable hands. Get added support from colleagues to complete the visual aids for your presentation. Enlist a coworker to proofread your presentation materials. Have your assistant round up the team so that they are in place for the run through and no one is straggling behind.
Note the lessons learned
When you turn a difficult situation around, make a written note of your accomplishment so that when a similar crisis presents itself, you can remember that being overwhelmed is a temporary condition and a solution is imminent. It’s just a matter of time.
It’s hard to say or do the right thing when someone you care about is going through a rough time. Here are some tips on what to do (or not to do) to support your friend.
Do listen to her worries. Those suffering from extreme stress can breathe a small sigh of relief after verbalizing their fears and concerns. Offer to lend an ear.
Do offer to help in any way you can. Bring her dinner one night or offer to take her children to the playground for an afternoon. She will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Don’t tell her to snap out of it. She’s under a lot of stress, and needs you to understand.
Don’t tell her how to change. She has likely read the same books and websites as you, but it isn’t that easy to adopt new behaviors.