You know those shifts where you are running on adrenalin?
The days where there was a crisis to navigate or so many calls on the board that you know you cannot stop. So, you double down and push through.
Initially it isn’t so bad. Your fight or flight system kicks in and you become hyper aware, more alert and assertive. Ready to fight or flee.
But along with this your focus narrows as you are only able to think about the situation right now. You have trouble seeing all available options and as this continues you get more anxious, struggle to remain calm and focused, become less productive, your heart rate increases, your shoulders tighten followed by the rest of your body and your brain may become foggy.
At least that’s how it works for me.
What if I was to tell you that there are tactical ways to get yourself out of fight or flight instantly?
These tactical strategies can calm the chaos in only a few minutes.
They will help your brain think clearer, slow down your heart rate so you can remain calm and focused while accomplishing what needs to get done faster with a clearer outcome.
Imagine how your calls would go if you were able to feel this way?
Fight or flight is a physiological response.
When you get into fight or flight (your stress response) your body wants you to breathe shallow, your thirst signal stops and your muscles become tense and frustrated.
In fight or flight mode your body and brain are set to deal with right now. Your consciousness thinks only of the here and now. It’s harder to see what’s ahead and how to think forward and come up with ideas and ways to deal with the situation at hand.
Here are 3 simple ways to get you out of fight or flight and into your rest and digest state.
- Breathing – In and out through nose. 7 seconds in and 7 seconds out. 4-6 breaths a minute calms the nervous system This only takes 2 minutes and will help you calm down and make decisions that will help you get through your day.
- Hydrate- When your fight or flight system is turned on your thirst signal turns off. You may go your whole shift without water. Water keeps your body moving and brain functioning. As soon as you realize you are in fight or flight chug at least 16 oz of water.
- Walk- The second you start breathing slowly when walking you are walking your body out of fight or flight. Your body wants to run. Walking tells it that the danger is over and it can calm down. Add the breathing to it and you will find your heart rate will drop, brain will become clearer, your muscles will relax. And you will be ready to then go back to the task at hand.
Regardless of the situation you will get rid of the acceleration and out of fight or flight and your perception immediately shifts.
Focus on where you are trying to go and not what’s overwhelming you.
If you are on the scene of a life or death situation then you need your flight or flight system to help you get through it. But when the scene is over and you are working to connect the dots for your report there is nothing wrong with taking a few minutes to chug some water and walk for 3-4 minutes breathing deeply and slowly.
Back away and create a better perspective.
You will find that taking a few minutes to take care of yourself will help you better take care of others. It’s not selfish.
Why wait? Try it today and change your day from overwhelm and stressful to calm and calculated.
If you would like to work on more tactical ways to control stresses around you so that your body is prepared to handle stresses that are out of your control then sign up for our newsletter. The focus is to help you reverse the effects of shift work and stress on your body to sleep better, increase your energy and prevent burn.