Dream(or relive a nightmare) with me for a moment: Don't worry, there is a prescriptive remedy to this situation.
It’s 9:30am on a Monday and three ‘fire emails’ are pending resolution. Your boss has swung by twice already; you’ve spilled coffee on yourself, traffic was unbearable, your kids/dog weren't cooperative getting out the door and or your weekend was filled with more 'work' than 'play'.
Then....it hits. "It" = emotional reaction. The 'O Monday, I hate you' feeling is now top of mind and has hijacked your emotional state.
The realization that you have at minimum 39.5 hours(IF you are lucky) in your week remaining leads to a feeling of hopeless and potentially a shutdown.
Tough truth: business won't stop because you are having an awful day, in fact, it always seems to be at that exact moment when more work ends up on your desk. The individual instances are now snowballing out of control. On top of that, this is just MONDAY and countless other things will happen this week. More hopelessness...what are we to do?
I have found that even when barreling through an awful day there are benefits for taking steps, literal steps, while problem solving.
A strategy I employed years ago was ‘walk it out’. It seemed too simple at first but the results astounded me. I was releasing my frustration through my steps, not on the most recent email or nearest fellow coworker.
If you employ this simple lift hack, the world will thank you and your body, mind and spirit will reward you.
Whenever you think you feel ‘better’ about sending an email(please don't click send!!!), or reluctant to make a decision that normally would be a quick yes/no, your mind is telling you that you are experiencing an amygdala hijack.
What is an amygdala hijack?
From the dusty dictionary: An Amygdala Hijack is an immediate and overwhelming emotional response out of proportion to the stimulus because it has triggered a more significant emotional threat. The amygdala is the part of our brain that handles emotions. During an Amygdala Hijack , the amygdala " hijacks " or shuts down the neo-cortex.
TL/DR, when we are overwhelmed, we react in ways that we wouldn't normally.
In these cases, our reptilian brain reaction will tell us to fight or flight…not problem solve and troubleshoot. How do we counter our own internal and subconscious reactions to stressful situations?
I would recommend a 5-7-minute walk session designed to do three things:
1. Transfer your emotional reaction into a healthy physical activity
2. Create opportunities for unintentional interactions/conversations with people that will help redirect your thought process allowing your neurons to pull you away from the initial stressor(make sure your walk path is AWAY from known stressors!)
3. Provides an escape that is biologically productive and necessary in our ever plugged in world
Other applications: walk for your meetings!
For managers, I employ this for weekly 1:1’s. There is nothing that I have found to be more impactful than removing the barrier of a desk and the semi claustrophobic reaction of a closed door. Take this discussion outside. Breathe fresh air, hopefully catch some sunshine and take stock of how you felt walking out and walking in.
Hard conversations require more privacy for but if done properly, you can pull people out of the hijack before so thoughtful next steps transpire.
For non-managers, this is a useful tactic to help expand your visibility in an organization. Making a new network connection, running into a peer over a coffee or even simply waving/smiling at a coworker can have immense impact not only on you but with others as well.
In a world where our phones travel with us frequently, you will still have the opportunity to check in during those 5-7-minute walks but view this as ‘recharge’ time. Remember, everyone is going through a challenge in their life and you taking a few moments to walk out your stress will have an immense impact on the world around you.
What about you LinkedIn Nation? What mico activities do you employ to help you avoid an emotional hijack?