Understand how you react under stress, moving beyond, buy time, process, leave
When overwhelmed or under stress most of us rely on more “basic” approaches to problems, which is not our best approach. Understanding what triggers stress reactions in yourself is incredibly helpful.
The reality is we are all overwhelmed at different times, it could be last night we did not have enough sleep or a specific event, use of trigger word word – all can remove rationality from us.
Some classic examples of being overwhelmed that we tend to ignore are insomnia, headaches, and pain. A list is here. Most of us have experience being overwhelmed in a crisis – over time you can learn to break the problem down and delegate. You are not alone.
The reality for us in leadership is that we are often under stress and we are also the victims of stronger use of cognitive biases. They will become more pronounced such as confirmation bias, because its easily and are mental guards are down.
One Psychological test I found helpful was Birkman test, which attempts to show what behaviors you may express under extreme stress. Whilst no psychological test is likely to be 100% accurate, it may point you in the right direction to being more self aware, and where you need to develop better coping mechanisms.
Signs of been overwhelmed:
- You feel more emotional than usually. Emotional volatility
- Unable to be present or inability to concentrate or listen
- Procrastinating on making decisions Difficulty making decisions
- Unable to feel emotions e.g. Numbness or withdrawal — from other people and activities
- More things irritate you
- Physical symptoms include headaches, back pain, digestive issues, fatigue, insomnia
Getting past it:
- “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
- “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”
Time to leave?
Step back and consider:
- Is the actual problem you? Not every organization, environment or culture is good for you and others will help you thrive and be your best
- Is the role or project bringing out the worst in you?
- Is it your boss? Maybe share this with your boss -> 5 Ways Bosses Can Reduce the Stigma of Mental Health at Work
- Is it your peers?
- Is the products you work on?
- Is it the C Suite or Directors?
- Is it the culture?
If you get a lot of yes, it may be time to move on to somewhere that is a better fit or challenge that will help bring the best out of you. If you asked a fair number of people leaving there jobs or being asked to leave they sometimes will describe it has a “Weight off their shoulders”.
If you decide to leave, consider deeply how you should do it. My advice is do not burn bridges. Not everyone is the same in every environment/culture. And most people will learn, adapt and change.
I think is universally true that we respect people who have grace under fire and if you are a leader you still have responsibility until you step off the plate.
That said you, you also do not have to do an exit interview.
Thoughts on Mental Health:
- Take care of yourself
- Take vacations
- Have more than work e.g. play, have fun, date..
- Have time for yourself
- Take Breaks
- Have time for those you care about in your life
- Spend time with the opposite side to your work. If is very rational/logical find an outlet for your creativity and vice versa.
Resources for Mental Health:
- Blog -> 9 brilliant leaders, investors, and thinkers share the questions they ask themselves when they’re completely overwhelmed
- Test -> Birkman Personal Style Profile
- Blog -> 1 in 5 Highly Engaged Employees Is at Risk of Burnout
- Blog -> 5 Ways Bosses Can Reduce the Stigma of Mental Health at Work
- Blog -> The Benefits of Laughing in the Office
- Blog -> How to Help Your Team with Burnout When You’re Burned Out Yourself