“I feel I’m running on a hamster wheel with no scope to get off. “
“I’ve no time to think or look at anything else because I’m always swamped with so many things I’ve to do.”
How often have you felt this way or heard your friends, partners, colleagues say this at various points in your day or their day?
Several of my coaching relationships start at this point.
We all go through this at several points in our life or at specific points in our day.
Is it a regular phenomena or something you feel at specific points in your day or specific periods of time at a stretch?
If you look around you, you’ll realize many people are stressed out or at a breaking point.
What are these stressors ?
Is it with work?
Is it with some transitions that you are going through at work or in life?
Is it with overall life in general in terms of your dreams and priorities?
What is the cause of these stressors?
Is it fear of being dispensable and losing your job or not being able to advance in your area of talent? Or being forced on account of lack of choices ?
What about your day-to-day stressors? Is it because you are not taking the required break ? Are you facing the fear of missing out, if you are not seemingly present in what you are doing ?
What is the impact of these stressors?
– are you being thoughtful in your responses on email and other forms of communication?
– do you tend to not pay attention to the tasks that you are doing and to the people around you ?
– how often do you play the blame game in these moments ?
– do you feel threatened and sense of fear or a fight or flight mode?
Why does this happen – our brain is complex and research from various neuroscientists are discovering more and more that the parts of the brain work together as a symphony, so as we separate one part out, we have to remember that it doesn’t work in isolation. The prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is the executive center controls our ability to understand, think, decide, analyze, memorize, inhibit and recall. So the PFC is vital to our daily survival, and yet there are many factors (environmental, hormonal, and genetic ) that can impact how well it works. The activity of the PFC Is also extremely energy-consuming.
If anything internal or external is impacting the functioning of the PFC, the activities relating to the 5 things above become harder and harder. Decisions will be harder to make, you won’t understand things as easily and inhibiting behaviors, or emotions will be harder.
Most of us are used to reading a proposal, at the same trying to understand it, possibly recall something from previous information. The more we add to this mix, the tougher it gets for the PFC to manage.
And one of the biggest drains to the PFC is inhibition, humans have the ability to socially control behaviors and emotions. And we need this to be able to function. These inhibitions could be in the form of not deciding to drink another cup of coffee or go to dinner with a friend since you have to complete the task at hand.
Social Control is draining to the brain, and that thrown in with the other activities of the PFC fuels the drain. The more drained we become, the less effective we are at being able to understand, think, decide, question, memorize or recall.
The more the stress/threat to the PFC, the greater the chances of our amygdala (flight or fight response part of our brain ) to take over, thus increasing our emotional response, and reducing our ability to use the PFC in general.
Do we need to take breaks ?
Research participants were nearly twice as likely to give the correct response to a complex decision-making problem if they were distracted by a simple three-minute number-matching task before being asked for their answers, says a team led by Marlène Abadie of the University of Toulouse in France. A more-demanding distraction had no such effect. Extracted from HBR
How do we get away from these breaking points or stressors
1. Self awareness – do you know your limits? How comfortable are you in saying No? Self awareness is your knowledge, moment by moment of what is going on within you, what is your emotional state, and the choice you make at that moment on how to behave.
2. Self Regulation – are you setting your priorities ? Do you schedule your day and prioritize ? Do you tend to react to every phenomenon that comes by your way during the day? Self regulation is having a degree of present moment self-awareness.
3. Self generation – how often do you reflect and renew? Do you question your beliefs and assumptions and ready to challenge them and move on? Self-generation is about creating alignment between moment to moment behavior and action with the desired outcome.
Do you take downtime, no matter how busy a schedule you may have?
Leadership success goes beyond your talents, skills, knowledge and experience. All the talent and skills are of no use if the moment by moment choice in terms of your behavior and action is not mindful.
When the heat is on and the going gets tough, are you on a reactive behavior as a leader or are you one who takes a calm, focused and balanced view? Do you encourage your team and help them refocus, thus building the trust.
The mental fences or shackles is what we set for ourselves. Learn to connect with your inner self and focus on your vision but allow yourself to take breaks.