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Stressed out? Who isn't!
Member news | July 16, 2020
The FACC-NY network is composed of a diverse mosaic of talented, experienced, and open-hearted professionals united by a desire to share their knowledge, nurture meaningful connections and succeed professionally. In this #MemberInsights series, we invite a guest member to contribute timely and relevant tips and insight for adapting your activities to overcome immediate challenges and plan for the long-term.
This week, hear from Stacee Mandeville, the founder of Red Leaf Coaching, who provides communication skills coaching to executives in a myriad of industries within companies such as Merck, HP, General Electric, JPMorgan, Levis, Business France, Deutsche Bank, Verizon, and Citigroup.
Let's face it: we're all pretty stressed out right now. As human beings, most of us thrive on certainty and routine. We’re hardwired to view changes to our natural flow as a threat. But now the uncertainty factor is off the charts, and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) daily threat level is taking a toll on our bodies and our minds.
So how do we stay calm and focused? How can we adjust our mood before an important meeting? How do we potentially mitigate the long-term effects of stress?
Disclaimer: I'm not a therapist or licensed clinician. I’m just a stressed-out gal who has things to do and no time to sink down into a fuzzy blanket with a cat and binge-watch nature shows every time I’m overwhelmed and upset. I’m always seeking new ways to help me chill the heck out and get my work done.
So take anything written here as nothing more than advice from a friend, and definitely check with a professional if your stress and anxiety is seriously impacting your mental health and wellbeing.
We all know about the fight-or-flight response, without which our ancestors would not have survived. Fight-or-flight gives us a chemical rush to fight, or run away from, extreme danger. If we don’t use this energy, it quietly builds up and causes problems. In civilized society, it’s generally frowned upon to run away when an angry client yells at you, or punch your aggressive coworker in the face. So, we freeze and react in a civilized way, and the situation gets resolved. Or so it appears.
In reality, all those negative feelings and chemical responses get pushed down and stored; they don't go away, and they build up over time. A lifetime of stored fight-or-flight chemicals can cause some of us to become depressed, unfocused, and hostile, even exploding and lashing out at the people we love.
So, when a stressful event happens, it's not a bad idea to let it out. “Better out than in” is a good mantra here.
Find a place you can be alone, so you can privately burn up the chemical response, rebalance your body chemistry, and go about your day. Some of my favorite ways to do this include:
- punch a pillow
- push your hands against a wall with your whole weight
- do a 60 second verbal rant, yell and swear if you need to
- put on some loud, preferably aggressive, rock or hip-hop music and dance it out
- find something useless (and not sharp), and destroy it (cardboard food delivery boxes are my favorite victim here)
This may seem silly, but it works to release some of the stress energy - it’s like blowing the foam off the top of a beer. Working out or running are also great options for people whose housemates are always around, but nothing beats a physical activity that is consciously and deliberately releasing stress.
For times when stress is coming up during an interaction, well... five billion people who do yoga can’t be wrong. Breathing calms you down. So, on a video call or in person, to help you remain calm, you can use a technique called “box breathing” which I demonstrate in the video. Also, if you can get five minutes to yourself between meetings, I can’t recommend meditation enough. I have a very serious daily practice, but even getting an app and breathing and visualizing along with someone's voice can help change your mental state from stressed to calm.
In times like these, where stress is a silently lurking constant force, I recommend finding a little time every day to physically and vocally release stress energy before it builds up to the point where it explodes. Release a little every day, better out than in - to remain focused and mentally strong.
And if you’re curious, here are some of the tools in my stress-release arsenal:
- Alexander Technique
- Feldenkrais Method
- Yoga Breathing
- Somatic Experiencing
- Rolfing and Massage
- Exercise with a deeply-ingrained sense of community and fun
- Deep Meditation
If you’d like to chat more about some of the techniques I use, you can contact me through my website: www.redleafcoaching.com. FACC members get 20% off one-to-one coaching packages.
And, like they say: stay calm and carry on!