Ever had one of those days when you’ve found yourself so wound up that a ringing phone or the ping of an incoming email brought on dread or you got so anxious that even the simplest of tasks felt Herculean? How about an unexpected crisis that has you spinning in situational stress?
These things do happen and when the stress builds up you might just have a melt-down moment and exhibit behavior which is a complete aberration from your normal cool self who does every task with panache.
I recently sensed melt-down clouds looming on the horizon when my furry companion Coco developed an unexpected case of herniated disc and loss of hind leg movement at a time when my calendar was full and left me stumped as to how I was going to manage everything around the new and critical addition to my schedule.
Even as I write this post, the most important activity of the first half of the day is taking her to the vet to ensure her successful recovery and taking care of her to prevent any further damage to her back. (That’s Coco with her World Cup Ball back in 2014 in the photograph. By the way, she is a Messi fan!)
The first thing I did was to assess my schedule and task list for the coming week. The approach I adopted was to look at each task and ask myself 3 important questions and based on my assessment, defer activities, postpone or reschedule meetings and re-prioritize my time working only on those tasks that were critical to staying on top of my game.
The questions were:
Which tasks are critical to the success of my ongoing work and projects?
Which tasks are important, but not critical and can be deferred or rescheduled?
Which tasks were optional and could be postponed?
Having done that, I was able to rework my schedule around the most important and critical task where success was non-negotiable.
Somehow these unexpected events put life and work in perspective, tasks are done in priority and commitment and everything that is not really that important gets deferred or shelved.
Here’s what I did next.
I reached out to my support system of pet parent friends and family who kept my spirits going when I started to feel stressed out. More often than not, there are people in my circle who have experiences similar to mine and are able to provide insights into a challenging situation and lots of moral support. A problem shared is a problem halved.
If you sense the meltdown clouds looming on the horizon, then try one or all of these 3 easy strategies that I used for this crisis including 3 others that I suggested in my post 3 Easy Ideas to Prevent December Meltdown to get back your sense of perspective and keep shining.
Recite an anti-stress litany
This is one of my favorite strategies and I used to practice it a lot before my school exams without even realizing that it was an anti-stress litany!
Essentially, focus on choosing the right thoughts during stressful times to affect and alter your mind-set. For example:
My best is good enough
This too shall pass
There is no challenge that I cannot overcome
I’m doing better than it looks
Listen to soothing music
In one of my earlier posts, I wrote about de-stressing with music and selecting sounds that are unique to our constitution and humor that have a calming effect.
Music is indeed a great mood changer and the best part about music is that it also helps to relieve stress. So choose your favorite genre of music and listen to it while working or even driving and let the magic of those notes lift your mood. Here is the link to that post
Engage in movement
When I was in school, our History teacher used to tell us to take short walks in the evening to rid ourselves of what she referred to as ‘toxic chemicals’ in our system.
In fact engaging in physical activity, whether walking, exercising at the gym, sports or even housecleaning is good for stress relief and releasing tension.
One of my colleagues used to manage her stress levels during our Chartered Accountancy examinations by gardening. May I add that she qualified in her exams in first attempts?
Engaging in physical activity does wonders in helping to release tension and distract the mind from worries. Choose an activity that engages you, including hobbies that involve creativity.
Knockout events create stress and can even at times result in situational disorganization but you can still stay on top of your game; you just need to know how to play it – fair and square.
Have you ever experienced potential melt-down moments that left you numb to action? What strategies did you use to get back to playing you’re A-Game? I’d love to read about them!
Image credits, including Coco’s photo: Vatsala ShuklaFollow Me
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