It’s been said that redundancy is more stressful than divorce and moving house and in my own opinion, having been through all three in less than 12 months, they’re all on a par! That said, the insidious and corrosive nature of being under the threat of redundancy is almost worse; the lack of control and the uncertainty of what’s coming are both key components for stress and associated illness; some research has indicated that those going through a redundancy process are 60% more likely to be taking anti-depressants than the general population.
Managing stress is important…control it, before it controls you!
There are many articles that detail practical tips in dealing with the fall-out of redundancy including planning of finances, using your network and building your brand; I didn’t want to regurgitate this excellent advice, rather I wanted to look at stress from a neuroscience and NLP standpoint and provide some valuable advice to managing the effects of stress.
From neuroscience, we know that the stress response is driven by the amygdala and the production of the stress-related hormones namely adrenaline, nor-adrenaline and cortisol and with this brain chemistry, the functionality of the brain is severely impacted. The degradation of thinking results in confusion and jumbled thoughts, an inability to plan effectively, a feeling of being overwhelmed and being unable to see the wood for the trees; this is directly linked to the ‘shut-down’ of the frontal cortex.
We need to be in a positive emotional state to generate productive thinking, behaviour and stimulate our motivation. To do this we need to re-set the ‘brain juice’ and we can take control of our brain chemistry by taking time out and doing something fun, laughing and taking exercise; in doing any or a mix of these, we release endorphins. By having fun, we can create a natural high and improve our emotional state for some considerable time. Did you know that the smell of lavender or vanilla or eating dark chocolate or spicy foods can all release endorphins…maybe just try one at a time!
Another critical brain chemical is serotonin…and this tends to be released when we feel important and part of a wider group; clearly this can be severely impacted when we’re hit with redundancy and the resulting isolation and lack of confidence. Therefore, it’s imperative that we remember those times when we made a significant contribution, when we achieved certain goals, when we beat the odds to produce a positive outcome. Relive those moments, remember how good it felt and by reflecting on these occasions we are re-realising our inherent value and the serotonin levels soar.
Interestingly, most anti-depressants focus on the production of serotonin so let’s boost our own levels naturally rather than popping-pills.
Taking control of things within our scope is an important step in reducing stress; it’s important to acknowledge that there are things out-with our control and accept that we cannot control everything. By taking control and taking positive actions we remove a key stressor. Furthermore, if we break-down our objectives into smaller ‘bite size’ chunks and start to achieve these mini-goals then we start to release dopamine. The net effect is that we stimulate our desire to take action and this becomes progressive, the more we achieve the more we want to achieve; the more success we have…the more we want to succeed. Celebrate the wins, even the little ones!
Watch out for negative self-talk…we’re listening! We are our own worst enemies when it comes to critical thinking and we give ourselves the hardest of times. Rehearsing negative opinions and comments in our heads is an excellent way to drive our emotional state in a downward spiral. Turn-down the volume on your negative self, reframe your thinking, adopt a positive tone, be realistically optimistic and treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. It might sound whimsical but silencing the inner critic is an important step and it’s a huge relief when they finally shut-up!
Breathe! Yes, it might seem obvious but recent research from Stanford University has identified how breathing slowly and deeply results in a feeling of calm and tranquillity. Researchers have identified a patch of neurons in the brain-stem which connect breathing to state-of-mind. These neurons are in effect spying on the breathing and sending this information to the Locus Coeruleus which communicates with many other areas of the brain; in relation to stress, it drives arousal and alertness, waking us from sleep and if excessive can trigger anxiety and distress. So breathe with purpose, meditate, do yoga or just take a break and breathe!
The brain is phenomenal and we only understand a little of how it works but it can be ‘fooled’ into creating better brain chemistry. We can consciously take charge and rather than being ruled by our emotional state…we can control how we feel. The brain doesn’t distinguish between fact and fiction so we can program it to allow us to feel better. In addition to the practical advice above there are many NLP techniques we can deploy to afford us new ways of thinking and ultimately a range of different and positive outcomes but to try and detail these here would simply be too much….so, stay tuned!