If you are able to remain unflappable in situations that would have most others in full-scale panic mode, consider yourself lucky. Some days trying out “put out fires” is as challenging as trying to cook four different meals on four different burners simultaneously. Something’s got to give.
Let’s say you’ve been handed a production deadline that would be almost impossible to meet without three members of your crew being off sick. The phone has been ringing off the wall, including that last call from your doctor’s receptionist saying your test results are in and he needs to see you today. Perhaps you can arrange that unplanned appointment around the after-school visit with your son’s school principal, regarding his skipping classes and looking set not to graduate.
Your pulse is racing and you feel the chill of a river of perspiration escaping your armpit. What else can go wrong today? You don’t even want to think about it. You feel about ready to snap, but before you do, take a brisk 10-minute walk, outside, and consider these strategies for curbing your sense of panic:
- Your overstressed mind is jumping to the future. What if the doctor has really bad news? What if your son is about to be kicked out of school? How can you possibly meet this ridiculous production deadline with three workers out? Whoa. Stop! Take some deep breaths and try to stay in the moment. You can only deal with one problem at a time, so decide what problem you need to deal with first.
- Okay, now you’re back at your desk and your pulse if out of the red zone. The first problem is the crazy production deadline. Decide what you can do about it. Are some of your workers up for overtime Are there any retired workers who might be willing to come in for a couple of days? Can any other projects be put on the back burner, freeing up staff?
- Remember that things could appear a lot brighter next week, or even tomorrow.
- Examine your own work habits. Are you wasting your time by checking your email and voicemail too frequently? Do so less frequently and only when you have a couple of minutes to spare.
- When you need a few minutes of peace and don’t want to be interrupted, close your office door.
- Can you delegate some of your work duties to reduce your own stress level? If not, decide which tasks should be placed on the front and back burners.
- Are you afraid to say “no” sometimes? If your plate is already overflowing, you’ll have to set limits on what else you can take on.
You always have options. Remembering that point is sometimes difficult, but in the end it will alleviate stress.