Why is it damaging “to hire” panic and stress?

How many times did it happen? You have a demanding task, the deadline is almost yesterday, and instead of laying a red carpet to your potential, you freeze. Obsessive thoughts block your creative imagination, beads of sweat appear, and the next thing you know is you are failing! A bad experience is yet another lesson, and to make a mistake might be a sign of overwhelm.

Stress is a physical and nervous reaction to strong emotions. In some cases, it can be productive and motivating to work. However, if it occurs regularly, there comes the time your body alarms. It activates a stress response known as  “fight or flight”, and panic disorder becomes part of this chronic sprint.

For many, everything is urgent. Their brain works only at high speed, which overloads the whole system. “Living this way is like driving only in first gear, constantly pushing the accelerator pedal,” says the author of  “Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself”, Joe Dispenza.

The panic case sends a signal to the others that you are helpless. It is partly a temporary lack of adequacy – as quotidian as it sounds, out there is a solution for everything but one. What prevents you from finding the answer is the confusion triggered by excessive stress. Working under pressure is like squeezing your eyes while crossing an illuminated road. You start acting irrationally. Some of the biggest mistakes you can make at this moment are:

  • Make a hasty decision – The deadline screams in your face, and you pick an option influenced by emotions without thinking it through. 
  • Start a meaningless dispute – A wave of feelings has grabbed you by the throat, and instead of resolving the case, you are pouring violent accusations on a peer or subordinate.
  • Overthink – The decision is in your hands, but the panic misjudgment that everything is falling apart leads you miles away from the right solution.
  • Set the pattern and drag your colleagues into a panic – Especially if your job includes team leadership, keep in mind that your behavior is like a code for others to follow.
  • Postpone a significant assignment – On the one hand, you can rationally decide it is not the right time to accomplish a project because you are not in the best shape. But on the other hand – you have to be attentive not to turn stress into an excuse for chronic inaction.
  • Give up – Raising your hands and thinking you can’t move forward can be life-saving. However, this kind of decision has to be reached wisely, not under pressure. It’s better to find a comprehensive approach to dealing with panic, not just slap it onto the floor.

Similar to addictions, the first thing to do is to admit that you have a problem. Conscious self-examination is the first step in reaching out to stress. Does it sound wrong to you? The secret of getting rid of stress is not to fight with it, but to accept this villain.  Some practical pieces of advice to counter the stress response:

  • Breathe – Next time your hormones boil, observe what’s happening to you. Visualize yourself as “sitting” in the next chair and watch your breath. Try to set a rhythm of conscious deep exhaling and inhaling as if you exhale the problem and inhale a solution. 
  • Take care of yourself  – Getting enough sleep and eating healthy affect your common condition, your energy levels, and your appetite for life and your job in particular.
  • Examine your behavior, and instead of burying your reactions, analyze what you have done. Process how you felt, remind yourself of the abdominal breathing and carry this advice into another stressful moment.
  • Apologize if you harm anyone in your panic breakdown. However, do not over excuse. The point is to create awareness, not to provoke regret.

Work is important. But if it has to come at the cost of health and peace of mind, then it is most probably not suitable for you. Billy Joel says: “If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time”. Decide if you want to shift to a higher gear or turn off and take a break.

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