03 December 2007

When you start to lose control stop, breath and regain focus.

Being overwhelmed and feeling out of control in your business is a terrible feeling. Sometimes I just don’t know where to turn. There are hundreds of emails that need answering, a pile of telephone messages to return, correspondence to read, meetings to be had, deadlines of every kind, staff needing direction and then you get the call saying there is a problem with your biggest customer and it is a doozy.

If all of this sounds like your normal kind of day and its only 9am – no wonder you are feeling a little out of control and in need of some balance and harmony in your life. I can relate completely. But when you are in the midst of an “Overwhelm Attack”, it’s easy to slide even lower but taking a moment to regroup is the best thing you can possibly do.

A friend of mine who is a pilot said that this is one of the key training techniques used in flight school. When things are starting to go pear shape,
take a moment to simply stop everything you are doing, take a big, deep breath and think about what you are doing logically. Sounds simple doesn’t it, but we rarely do it.

A good friend of mine who has had the pleasure of watching me over the years going from periods of Zen Monk calmness to sheer madness gave me a sticker that simply said “JUST BREATHE”. And it is advice I will take to grave.

Years ago I had problems with anxiety attacks. I was a commercial diver at the time so as you can imagine, its not good to experience a panic attack 50 metres below the surface of the ocean. The psychologist said a similar thing at the time – “you have to learn to breathe”. I was very impressed by these words of wisdom, thinking I had clearly just wasted hundred of dollars by seeing a crazy woman, but as the years went by, and I did learn to breathe, I realised just how right she was.

When we are stressed and freaked out, we breathe very shallowly. This makes up feel more stressed and short of breath, which of course stresses us out even more. It’s a nasty cycle.

If you can learn to stop, take a few very deep breaths and then do what you need to do the results will be far better and your feelings of overwhelm and out of control will be greatly reduced in intensity. It is simply a matter of reprogramming your normal response mechanism, which is to dive in and try and fix everything.

What can you do today? Learn to breath. Put a big sign on the wall – “JUST BREATHE”. And the very next time you are feeling the pangs of “out of control” starting to surface, stop, take a few deep breathes and then act. It will take a while to reprogramme yourself but when you do, life will become much easier.

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