Stress Is Your Choice
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a number project professionals about their challenges during this time of massive change. Everyone I talked with said that their biggest challenge is overwhelming stress. They have good reason.
Right now, we are faced with a “stress trifecta”. A worldwide pandemic has restricted our personal connections, racial injustice has prompted world-wide protests, and the stock market is tanking because there is too much crude oil to be processed.
Your Brain Under Stress
Yes, stress is a choice and if you chose it, you lose access to learning, creativity, curiosity, and objectivity. Holding stress tells the amygdala in your old brain that there is a threat state. It floods your physiology with adrenaline and other stress-related hormones. In a work environment, this causes you to get defensive (fight), retreat to a safe place (flight), or get tongue tied (freeze). At the same time, it blocks access to your neocortex – your thinking brain.
Instead of choosing stress, you can choose clarity and objectivity by flipping the old brain switch. This will get you back to the logic and thinking resources in your neocortex.
Overwhelm for 90 Seconds – Then Choose
When it came out in 2009, I read My Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor that allowed me to master control over my emotions. Dr. Taylor was a brain surgeon and scientist who had a stroke in her left brain due to a burst aneurism. By the time she knew she was in trouble, she lost speech and numbers. She dialed her phone from muscle memory. When she tried to speak, it came out garbled. Her assistant recognized that something was very wrong and sent an ambulance.
After her stroke and the subsequent surgery to remove the blood clot it caused, Dr. Taylor had to re-learn language, numbers, and information processing. She also learned that she could choose her emotional state. This is because it takes 90 seconds for an intense emotion to surge through the body. On the 91st second, you can choose to keep it or let it go. If you want to find out how I learned how to flip my “amygdala hijack” switch, Change Your State and Go from Stressed to Skilled.
Flip your Switch
- To learn more about how to change your mindset from stressed to skilled, read The Truth about Workplace Stress.
- To find out how to reset the stress levels of your team members, read 5 Secrets to Instant Collaboration.
- To find out more about managing your stress, your team, and your project, join the next presentation of Protect Your Project during the Pandemic and Beyond by Bernadette Donnelly, PMP, M.S.