The days are getting shorter, and my to-do list is getting longer. In the last week, I’ve talked with several people who feel stressed and overwhelmed. Indeed research shows that our first reaction to stress is fight, flight, or freeze. This reaction happens in a microsecond in the limbic region in our brain – before we are even aware of it.
Over time, with enough stress, we can start defaulting to freeze, to being just plain overwhelmed. This goes by many names, analysis paralysis, choking under pressure, or worry.
So here are a few strategies that I use to get “unfrozen”:
- Create a status list. Start with a checklist or to-do list and briefly outline status, timeframe, and next steps. This frees up working memory, allowing better processing of tasks at hand.
- Outsource what you can. Instead of trying to “do it all yourself” find items that can be managed by others. Letting go of control offers others the opportunity to develop and frees energy for focusing on where your time is needed.
- Take a break from the computer and cell phone. Go for a walk. Taking a pause from the things that consume you allows for incubation, a fresh perspective. Exercise or just time away can allow our neural pathways to make new connections, allowing new patterns to become apparent.
- Modify thoughts and reactions. Accept things as they are, without expectations and preconceived ideas about how we think things “should be”. Observe our roles in events and our reactions to them. Remember that our thoughts, feelings, beliefs are temporary.
My goal is to live successfully with stress, not frozen, not rushing ahead for more of the same – engaged in getting unfrozen and enjoying the seasons of life around me. How do you get “unfrozen”?