Would you agree that when times are tough, you and your organization (which is a group of people just like you) need more than ever to be operating at maximum effectiveness?
Yet it’s usually the opposite.
Because when you’re under pressure and emotions are running high you instinctively revert to old default behavioral programs—without realizing it.
That’s why learning to pause and stay calm in the midst of a storm is crucial to productive personal and business strategies.
Many successful entrepreneurs are expert at this.
The default stress response makes you lose your ability to really listen, keep a sense of perspective or evaluate a situation objectively. You revert to the close- minded tunnel vision of survival, driven by an overwhelming need to regain control immediately.
Yes, sometimes you can manage on adrenaline for a while when under pressure, but impulsive emotionally driven behaviors become self-destructive at some point—and take others with them.
When you panic, you take things personally.
This can easily lead to wallowing in self pity, causing you to focus single-mindedly on all the things that are beyond your control, and making you to feel increasingly helpless and dis-empowered. It deactivates the solution center of your brain, so that you resist the very strategies that will solve the problem. Feeling helpless often makes you want to lash out and blame, like an animal caught in a snare.
When you’re caught in a stress spiral communication and interaction suffer, and your attitude toward partners, family members, bosses, colleagues, employees and customers can be very counter-productive. You often say or do things you regret bitterly later. In addition, you may neglect your health and abuse your body—making yourself ill, overweight, or unfit. Your well-being tends to take a back seat and become the last thing on your To Do list.
If you’ve experienced this, you may already know that allowing yourself to become a victim of stress will eventually ruin relationships, play havoc with your health, sabotage parenting skills, derail careers and seriously handicap your potential for success and prosperity.
The key to handling tough times productively is to do exactly the opposite.
Conscious self-care needs to become your FIRST priority!
Not when “things calm down” or “the crisis is over”, any more than a car with a flat battery, will reach its destination. You can sit there trying to turn the engine over for the next week desperately visualizing your destination, but you’re going nowhere until you recharge the battery.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for self care; no instant panacea or magic formula. It’s up to you to discover and determine what you need to restore a sense of calm, perspective and productivity. This varies from person to person and depends on your situation.
When you’re under pressure you can’t afford to make self-care an afterthought.
To function at your best and therefore get the positive results you want, you need to make conscious self-care your first priority.
So to get you started, here are 14 things not to do when the pressure’s on:
1. Don’t stop your exercise routine. When you least feel like exercising is when you most need it to increase mental clarity and energy levels. Remember, future outcomes depend on the self-care choices you make right now.
2. Don’t skip sleep, relaxation or unplugged time. This is for the same reason.
3. Don’t adopt unhealthy eating and drinking habits. Take extra vitamin supplements. When you need extra energy, you have to provide the fuel.
4. Don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is self-handicapping. Move out of that inactive zone into the active zone – even though it’s scary. Deal with problems while they’re still small. Break them into bite sized pieces, and make a start. Don’t let them accumulate into an insurmountable mountain.
5. Stop blaming, lying, or making excuses. This just keeps you stuck and powerless. Take responsibility for your part in this situation—it’s the only way you learn; then you’ll do it better next time.
6. Stop Comparing. Don’t waste energy and time on envy or jealousy. Start doing whatever is necessary to get or do or be these things for yourself if you value them so highly. Instead of getting even, focus on getting ahead.
7. Don’t expect things to always go as planned. Life is full of uncertainty and change. So get comfortable with it. Have flexible expectations.
8. Don’t take the quick fix route. Instant solutions are rarely the smart ones. The way you climb a mountain is one step at a time. And every step no matter how small is progress. Look back regularly to see how far you’ve come; it gives you a sense of perspective.
9. Don’t forget to celebrate your progress. It encourages you and helps maintain momentum.
10. Don’t fall into the perfection trap. Being a perfectionist makes you allergic to yourself and puts you in a constant state of rejection.
11. Don’t lose sight of your intrinsic self-value. This is especially easy to do when the pressure’s on and you start to doubt your ability to handle it. Dump the self-criticism and pump up the self-compassion.
12. Don’t fall into the failure trap. It’s just another word for feedback. Keep your self-esteem intact, regardless of what’s going on around you. Focus on what you got right—not what you got wrong.
13. Keep your personal boundaries intact. Have the courage to assert yourself at home and at work, even when you’re scared and weary. It’s the only way to insure that you’re able to perform at your best. Take time out if you can. It helps to restore perspective. If everyone is allowed to grab a piece of you whenever they want, there won’t be anything left to get you back on track.
14. Don’t isolate yourself or reinvent the wheel. Reach out for mentoring and coaching and expect support. This is when you need it most. What’s impossible to do alone is almost always possible with a strong team.
I’ve lost count of how often I’ve received feedback along the lines of I don’t know how I would have handled this crisis, if I hadn’t learned these stress mastery strategies.”
Putting your self-care first at any time, and especially when you’re under pressure is not the same as being selfish. Selfishness is demanding and expecting time and attention from others; having an insatiable hunger for external validation that can never be satisfied; expecting them to sacrifice their needs for you.
Self-care is insuring that you are fully fuelled so that you have something of value to share with others.
What are you going to do to insure that you get up each morning with the kind of energy and self value that allows you to keep your balance, even in the face of the toughest challenges? If this is new to you and you need help click here.