Staying cool and in control under pressure isn’t easy!
Sometimes life goes in a different direction to what we expect. But staying cool and in control is important for maintaining focus and keeping your career on track.
Have you ever been in a situation where life gets chaotic and stressful and it’s a struggle to keep your career on track? We’ve all been there. It could be a major and real crisis outside our control such as divorce, sickness of self or family member or carer challenges. It can also be series of small, seemingly unimportant instances that cumulatively absorb head space because they take up a lot of time.
But unless you are financially independent, staying cool and in control is important to focus on your job and career.
Marie, a Philadelphia based marketing manager who had only been promoted to her new job five months before told us:
“My life had a meltdown. They say that bad things happen in threes well I think I had five that came in quick succession. My sister, who is my mother’s carer got sick and was hospitalized, at the same time as my 8 year old son had a serious ice-hockey injury. Within days I discovered I was pregnant, which was amazing as I had been told I had gone through an early menopause. A day later my daughter drove the car through the garage wall into the family room. I was sick as a dog, driving to see my sister and my mother in a rental car, getting the house and my own car fixed and my son to physical therapy. All of the while trying to create the company marketing strategy and business plan.”
5 tips to staying cool and in control when life takes you over
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.
Any yogi worth his or her salt will focus on getting your breathing calm and regular. Pranayama is the formal practice of controlling the breath, which is the source of our prana, or vital life force which is central to a healthy body and mind.
Breathing exercises, or even just taking a few deep breaths giving your system an extra boost of oxygen, helps reduce tension and relieve stress. Shallow breathing, an early warning system for stress or anxiety stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic reaction, which has a calming effect.
Sometimes life can be hard, but it’s important to not allow it to get to you. 3Plus can help you with our Returner Roll-Up Session on Developing Resilience.
Stress is activated in the brain, but it can be a full-body phenomenon. Your pulse rises, your muscles tense and your breathing quickens. Some stress is good, but too much can cause you to shut down and feel helpless and to even stop functioning.
In our world where multi-tasking and busyness is the norm, creating a sense of being present and mindfulness is essential. This gives us the opportunity to connect with ourselves before we connect with others. We can now focus our attention on what is happening in the present and accept it neutrally without reaction or judgment.
Focused visualization is a helpful way to anchor yourself. Choose a comfortable position; it can be at your desk, in an empty office, or even a park bench. Visualise yourself in a favorite location, somewhere calming and peaceful. It can be a beach, a mountain top or your garden. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, for 5 minutes or as long as you have time. Feel the stress seep out of your body as calm thoughts take their place.
Now you are calm you can prioritize. Step back and look at the things that are bothering you and pare them back to only the issues or actions that require your attention now. Then make a second list of demands that are less significant and can wait. Put those on an achievable timeline. The rest you can leave for now. Anything that is not serious will go away – maybe for good, but at least for a short while.
4. Get support
Consider asking for help and support. Understanding that you can’t cope on your own is the first major hurdle to overcome. It might be for emotional support with a coach or therapist. It might be simply confiding in a colleague or a mentor or even a friend. Share your concerns (without over sharing, Facebook rants although cathartic may come back to haunt you as a professional.) Be open to offers. Accepting support is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
If the challenges are professional, identify (if you can) any tasks you can delegate to your team or pass them on to a colleague. Discuss your situation with your boss. Some people are reluctant to do that in case it rebounds, but if your boss is not empathetic maybe when things have settled down, it’s time to find another boss. Cut out totally any work that is not related to your KPIs. When the challenges are personal or involve a personal component, now is the time to talk to your family and manage expectations. What additional contribution can they make?
Remember women assume responsibility for the lion’s share of invisible work. We thought Marie was a single parent when she shared her story, but in fact she wasn’t! That is a big tell. Unless you are a widow, had your children via a sperm donor or your partner is criminally irresponsible, kids generally have two parents. If you have the budget, consider outsourcing low value work even for a short time.
Staying cool and in control when life runs amok seems impossible – but it can be done. Take heed of any warning signs to avoid burnout which is always a danger.