“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” – Rudyard Kipling
I spent 16 years in the world of corporate marketing, running multi million-pound launches for BIG household names. It was a thrill ride, with extreme stress and competition but also amazing times.
I saw it all in that time. People really getting stressed… the door slamming, yelling disagreements and walking out of meetings! The swearing on emails, name calling, and blaming. The programme manager screaming at his team in the heat of a deadline. Friends sobbing in the bathroom after their review. I’ve seen coffee mugs thrown, name calling and on the other side people being ignored and talked over.
This year has been one of the most challenging ever, with so much change. And all that in a corporate world of hyper-competitiveness and an unprecedented pressure. It’s not surprising feelings of stress may be at their highest levels ever.
According to The American Institute of Stress:
80% of workers feel stress on the job
25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress
14% of respondents had felt like striking a coworker in the past year
9% are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace
The stressful environment of corporate world is at it’s most challenging for women who are leaders, now more than ever in history.
It means each day is a race against the clock, from the moment you get up, to the moment you fall into bed. That late night chocolate and red wine to numb your frustration!
Your head buzzing and that dread in your stomach about what tomorrow will bring and what is landing in your inbox as you sleep!
…You know if you don’t change it now, you’ll end up HAVING to stop!
Does it seem impossible to balance work and home? That mythical work life balance seems about as likely as a brightly coloured flying unicorn! Or that flying pig you’ve never actually seen! You keep working harder, giving more to others and having an ever crazier diary just to try to make life a little more “balanced”.
You know that in being able to keep calm, in all the stress .. when it all falls apart you’ll cope better with the ups and downs at work. Whilst keeping your sanity, and not dreading the day… care just a little less to do a better job. You’re just so busy, you have NO idea where to start.
Let’s start with what is REALLY going on, when the colleague that irritates you talks over you again in a meeting. You know the one you want to punch!
What’s REALLY going on when you lose your calm and feel stressed?
So here we go with the Noggin Knowledge. When you lose your calm, it’s NOT you… it’s your brain.
The brain is a pattern seeking machine, so where there is a break in the pattern and the norm… the brain goes back into survival mode.
This means we’re in our animal brain UNTIL we refind that prediction and response.
So you’ll be:
- Reacting NOT responding, you’ll essentially have a short fuse.
- More stressed and anxious, have that sick in the stomach feeling like you’ve done something wrong.
- Less able to think, have brain fog and not be able to concentrate and then get frustrated at yourself.
And what is truly happening here, you’re shifting from the calm in the para sympathetic nervous system to the fight and flight, our primal survival system.
The more time we spend here, the less time we’re thinking and developing so the more and more stressed we become.
PLUS adding to that, it releases huge increases in cortisol which when prolonged has some really negative effects on our energy and health.
And effects our digestive system, so we don’t break down our food in the most efficient way, which will affect your weight over time.
Plus our bodies will be in a constant state of stress, so inflammation is higher, increasing any pain or conditions that are already there.
^^^ WHO KNEW RIGHT?!?!?
A little stress is good for you. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.
YET for most women I speak to, really all of their stress is self-created and it becomes their NORMAL. An accepted constant in their lives.
This is not a judgment but they are NOT in physical danger. Emotional pain YE,S which lights up the same pathways in the brain, but physical pain NO.
Which means if we’ve created it, we can also change it … it’s all within our gift.
Here’s my 5 Steps to Keeping your Calm at Work .. Especially on those WTAF Days
1) BREATH and feel
The first thing you do when you come into the world and the last thing you’ll do as you leave is BREATHE!
Yet when you feel stressed and lose your calm, focusing on your breathing brings you back to YOU. It’s incredibly powerful. I describe it to clients as the thermostat of our body, everything flows from how we breathe.
So if life feeling a little fast and too much, if the kids are screaming or you’re about to going into a scary meeting at work.
HAND ON HEART
2) Share and Ask for Help
Many women I work with see asking for help as weak. Society has led up to believe that we need to be a superwoman keeping all plates in the air on our own without a hair out of place.
It’s a lie. It’s the sign of a strong woman to see when you need some help and support. It’s NOT the asking for help that’s the problem it’s your attachment to what that means.
Time to drop the lies!
When you think of the BIG achievements of our time, no one person does those alone… they have a team and same for you.
Why stay stuck when you can ask for a little help and support? So for right now, ask yourself …
What would help me most right now?
Who can help me with that?
What could I help them with in return at some point?
3) Stop the time travel
Time travel is a key concept that I share with my clients, it’s life changing to be able to understand yourself.
Time travel is when you think about the past or the future, rather than living in the NOW.
Here’s why it’s so important:
The past is DONE, all we can do now is change our view of it.
The future is NOT yet here, so all we can do is live our best life now.
^^^ When we get hit by life we tend to time travel into the future and go into the what if’s … what is this happens, then this, then this.
Your true power is to influence that by doing what we can NOW to create what we want.
4) Practice gratitude
When life throws a curve ball in our face, it’s very easy to start to become stressed, anxious and into the time travel we just talked about.
Slow down and tune into gratitude. What can we be thankful for in this moment:
Your skills and abilities
Your impact and potential for more.
There will always be something to be grateful even in the darkest of times, gratitude and fear can’t exist together so the more gratitude you feel the less you’ll feel fear.
5) Embrace the worst case
In every single thing we go through, no matter how hard it is there are lessons to learn and see about ourselves.
It’s hard at the time, but a simple way to make peace with what’s happening for you.
Think about a curve ball that life has thrown at you that was really hard, write down what it was and how you felt. Then think about the lessons from it, the negatives – as we’re wired that way that’ll be easy.
Then the positive lessons from it, as hard as they might be to see there will ALWAYS be something there. AND the even more powerful part of this, is that you’ll accept this curve ball and embrace it as part of your story rather than feeling shame, embarrassment or being hard on yourself.
Life will never stop happening to you, we can chose that it happens for us and if you follow these steps you will start to feel that powerful shift.
I’d love to know which step resonated with you and if you found this useful please share it.
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