Posted: August 23, 2012
Un-pushing the panic button
Remain calm and carry onBy Teri Karjala
I know that I am not alone in this. Sometimes my alarm clock reads 2:00 a.m. and I wonder what I am still doing up trying to master the impossible task of getting everything done. Also sometimes — we have to stop and admit to others and to ourselves that we can't always be superman or superwoman. Tasks may not always get done, even when we think that they should.
Not getting these tasks done may create a brief yet intense freak-out moment. You know the kind. It starts with the thought, “how am I ever going to get caught up?” — and then slowly your brain starts to fill in the blanks until you are in the throes of a complete meltdown.
These freak-out moments also take place when one thing after another seems to go wrong. These are the moments when, like a domino effect, one unfortunate event leads to another, and another, and so on and so forth. In such moments everything seems to be falling apart at your finger tips and it just doesn’t seem to matter what you try to do.
Moments like these may initially be brought on by additional or new responsibilities, ceaseless bills, unhappy employees or pressure around referrals. They may be influenced by challenges in your lifestyle such as lack of support, not enough down time, or family and other outside issues.
All of these factors combine as stressors and work under the surface until the right moment when everything seems to peak and fall apart. These stressful moments are the result of living life out of balance and serve as a reminder to re-evaluate where we are at and how we got there in the first place.
Like change and taxes, stress is unavoidable in life and especially in running your own business. Which leads us to the very important question: How do we learn to prevent freak-out moments and deal with them when they arise?
Like any good doctor will tell you, prevention is the best method of defense. Scheduling down time, giving yourself reasonable deadlines, and being kind to yourself in terms of self-induced pressure are ways in which to prevent stress from building up in your life. Having an outlet where you can physically exert yourself to blow off steam is also vital to controlling and alleviating stress. So go ahead, hop on the treadmill, take a bike ride, or take out your stress on a punching bag!
For times when, despite your best efforts, you slip into a panic attack or freak out, it helps immensely to incorporate one or more of these steps. They are easy, usually free and switch you and your brain from panic, to calm.
- Deep breathing. Get re-centered on what is really important to you. Hopefully you have your goals written out and you can reflect on the bigger picture.
- Stop what you are doing and get out of the office. Go for a walk or leave work early and do something you enjoy. This may seem out-of-character when you are already stressed, but the more you focus on the negative the more of it you will receive.
- Get organized. Create a plan based on your current projects. From there break down the tasks into smaller, more realistic goals and then focus on them one step at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
- Delegate to other employees, contractors and staff. There are always things that you can delegate to someone else if you are willing to let go of some control. Take a deep breath, relax, and let them do it.
- Learning and using EFT, Emotional Freedom Techniques, is a wonderful tool for alleviating both acute and long term stress from the body. Check out www.emofree.com for more details.
- If nothing else, adopt “The 20 Minute Rule.” Set your timer on your phone for 20 minutes. Select one project and then attempt to beat the clock! This is a fun exercise that helps me stay more focused and on task. Afterwards allow yourself a tiny celebration or a pat on the back for accomplishing the task in under 20 minutes. Try it and tell me what you think: I love hearing your feedback.
Teri Karjala is a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist. She can be reached directly at: email@example.com.