When I am stressed, I am a transparency of myself. My language centre is hijacked. I am defensive. Negative. Worried. Silent.
With my full self, I am positive, open, optimistic, vocal.
At our Workplace Fairness lunch recently, Jo-Ann Pawliw, licensed stress and performance coach, got us talking about our early warning system for recognizing stress. She used an analogy of 4 coloured markers to help us understand how rapidly our brain decreases function when we are stressed. Did you know that your emotional hijack, if it is un-addressed, can last for 18 minutes? It’s long enough to do damage. She also pointed out then when stress occurs, your brain releases chemicals into your bloodstream which can last for 3-4 hours.
That could ruin your day.
Or your golf game.
It is important for all of us to recognize our early markers. I think my first is serious negative thinking. I begin a spiral down into pessimism which deflates my energy and undermines my skills. Jo-Ann shared some strategies based on brain and physiological research:
STOP. Interrupt your response.
OXYGENATE. Concentrate on your breath. Bring air into your lungs through your nose and focus on shorter in (perhaps 3 counts) and longer out (perhaps 5 counts). Concentrate on bringing your breath in through your lungs and around your heart.
SEEK. Be curious. Seek information about why this is happening to you and what is going on for others around you.
I am committed to working on this. When I feel myself dropping those markers, and the colours of my world shrinking, I will focus on my breath and take myself to my really happy place — into the woods on skis, where I am a full self and not a transparency self.
Thanks Jo-Ann. If you are interested in coaching to help you manage performance under stress, visit www.heartofperformance.com.