Archive for the ‘Overwhelm’ Category

3 Ways to Get Ease. Literally. My book is here!

November 18, 2013

Note: This was first published on my Big Cheese Coaching blog

I just received my first hard copies of my new book, Ease , last week! I’ve had many people share with me they were looking forward to reading Ease so here I am with the good news:

It’s Ready. Come and Get It! (please and if you like 🙂

This is so very exciting for me. See the pic below of me signing my first book for Terry Fallis* who has so generously provided some publishing savvy tips and guidance to me — and took the time to read Ease and offered some advance praise.

Terry Fallis shows Eileen the tricks of the tradeTerry Fallis shows Eileen the tricks of the trade*Terry Fallis shows me the ropes – how to properly sign a book! Terry is the award-winning author of The Best Laid Plans and cofounder of Thornley Fallis Communications.

Ease is now available to order from several major online book retailers. In the weeks and months ahead, Ease will be available at thousands of online retailers globally. Right now, many of the major retailers are posting it. See links below.

There are three formats: hard copy (my favorite); soft cover and e-book. Currently not all online sites are posting the e-book just yet (but more will in the weeks ahead).

If you go to a site directly, rather than searching for ‘Ease’ type in “Eileen Chadnick” and it will take you to the Ease page if it’s posted. Better yet, check out these links below and they will take you directly to the Ease page. Note: pricing varies so look for the best deal!

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

i-Universe

Books-a-Million (Bam)

There are and will be more availability in the weeks ahead. Do check out my book website ‘buy’ page for more details on retailers and delivery timing (especially if buying Ease as a holiday gift).

Would love to hear your feedback! Please share and help spread the word.

Here’s to a TGIM work life with abundance and Ease.

Eileen

Six Ways To Tame Your Stressed Out Brain

August 12, 2013

UPDATE (DEC 2013):  if the topic of managing overwhelm is of interest to you – I just launched a new book called, Ease – Manage Overwhelm in Times of Crazy Busy. You can get it at most online book retailers. Read here for more!

(Originally posted at http://www.bigcheesecoaching.com)

A slighted shorter version of this article has also been published in the Globe and Mail Careers.

The Scenario:

It is late afternoon and a busy executive, whom we will call Sue, is trying to finish up a project before she leaves to get her daughter from daycare. Simultaneously she is also dealing with several other priorities on her plate. Already running late, she receives an urgent email from her boss advising of a change in direction for a proposal due the next day.  Feeling stressed, Sue feels her anxiety escalate even further. Just when she needs it most, her normally sharp ‘thinking brain’ seems to freeze up. She feels overwhelmed, frustrated and stuck not knowing how to handle the demands piling up.

Stressed Businesswoman

(Microsoft Image)

Bye Bye Thinking Capacity – Hello Brain Freeze?

Sound familiar? Many people can likely relate to this scenario. It’s normal to feel occasional bouts of overwhelm.   Most people want to do well and to feel good about their work. But when stress levels go into overdrive, judgment, prioritizing and other critical thinking skills can become compromised, further escalating stress and impacting performance – and wellbeing.

Take heart. It may not be you. It could be your brain. And with just a little neuroscience savvy and a few brain-friendly strategies you can be better equipped to handle those times of ‘crazy busy’,  boost your performance and feel calmer too.

Brain Work 101: The Higher Thinking Brain vs. the Survival Brain.

Blame your stress on the amygdala – the part of the brain that ‘detects and protects’. Formed earliest in our evolution and part of the limbic system, the amygdala is akin to being a ‘survival brain’ with a super sharp ability to scan for and react to any perception of danger. Reacting instantaneously to any hint of threat, it gets us ready for fight or flight. Eliciting what’s known as the “stress response” with the release of adrenaline and cortisol to get our heart pumping and muscles primed for….well that depends on what happens next.

Is that a lion or a crazy deadline? The amygdala doesn’t know or care. Its job is not to discern whether the threat is real or perceived; its job is simply to protect.  When we experience an emotional response related to our work or life (‘oh no, not another crazy deadline or yet another change!), it fires the alarm just as it would if there was a real physical threat.

Unfortunately since survival always trumps reflection this happens at the expense of another essential part of our brain: the prefrontal cortex (PFC) which handles higher thinking skills like critical thinking, discernment, judgment and other cognitive skills. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) works best when under moderate stress and gets suppressed when the amygdala is all fired up.  Paradoxically, we need the skills of the prefrontal cortex to deal effectively with the stressful ‘stuff’ of work and life.

Bring back the calm  

To get a grip in a stressful moment, we need strategies that put the perceived threat back into its respectful cage and deliberately bring our higher thinking abilities (via the PFC) back online.  Here are six brain-friendly strategies to help you “tame your brain” and give your higher thinking brain a better chance at doing its work.

Six Strategies to Tame Your Brain and Give Your Higher Thinking Brain a Better Chance

1) Pause

When in the midst of a stressful moment, take a moment to simply pause.  While it may feel counter-intuitive when rushed with time-sensitive workloads, a short pause provides a time buffer that can weaken the impulse and mitigate falling into the stress response.  Counting to 10 or 20, breathing deeply or taking a short break can provide that reprieve amidst a sense of urgency and chaos.  More importantly, this intentional break can give you that small but critical opening for more productive thinking and putting things in better perspective.

2) Notice and Name it.

In his book “Your Brain at Work, David Rock, President of the Neuroleadership Institute, shares a powerful yet simple strategy for bringing your higher thinking skills (via the prefrontal cortex) back on line. Simply observe and then name your emotional reaction. For instance, you might say to yourself, “I’m feeling very stressed” or “I’m frazzled”.  It’s important to notice then label the experience without feeding into the emotion. While this awareness won’t likely give you full relief this simple cognitive act engages the PFC which can diffuse the strength of the ‘amygdala attack’ — making room for a more reflective approach.  Additionally, engaging the prefrontal cortex can elicit the hormone know as Gaba (gamma-amino butyric acid ) which provides a calming effect when there is too much adrenaline in the body.

3) Organize

Our left hemisphere brains love it when we make plans and get organized. Organizing is a powerful antidote to overwhelm and can provide a calming effect when we feel chaos and fear. Write out a to-do list; revisit your priorities; create an action plan; clean up the clutter on your desk or in a file. Do anything that gives you (and your brain) a greater sense of order amidst all the pressure of a demanding workload.

4) Focus

Our brains crave focus.  But all too often we work against this by trying to multi-task. Our brains, in fact, are not built for multi-tasking attention. Instead, the brain simply toggles from one thinking task to another. This constant switching is a major energy drain and a first class ticket to frazzle. This unfocused waste of attention also compromises productivity, creativity and efficiency.  Instead, work on scheduling more focus time in your day; chunk down your priorities and focus on one task at a time. Pay attention to your habits and notice where you can reign in the multitasking beast.

 5) Visualize

While our left hemisphere of our brain craves order, the right hemisphere can help us access calm with strategies like visualizing, looking at the big picture, and reflecting on meaningful symbols and metaphors.  Try to visualize success in handling a challenge you are facing; create an image in your mind that inspires calm; identify and tune into a metaphor that symbolizes strength. The possibilities are endless. The key is to integrate your whole brain and that includes both left and right hemisphere brain strengths.

6) Connect

Interacting with people you like can boost levels of the Oxytocin hormone which can have a calming effect when stressed.  Avoid the urge to hide or go it alone. Instead seek out others whom you trust and can count on for support.

So – how do you manage work overload?

Here’s to your personal and professional wellbeing.

Eileen Chadnick

There’s a Traffic Jam — In My Head

July 6, 2007

Well, it’s been more than I week since I last posted. It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say. Actually – I always have something (often too much) to say! But I somehow got stuck in traffic……

(photo courtesy of Flickr. See more here)

In my head that is…..ideas/thoughts/busyness/work/work/work……all converging and found myself a little stuck on what to blog about. Intellectually I have a ton of post ideas…..but the inspiration to actually write was nowhere to be found. Blank stare. Traffic jam of ideas  – but nothing to say.

Hmmm. In the spirit of ‘masterful noticing’ – I’m noticing that I might be needing a little break. My battery running on low juice.

Thankfully, I’ve had plenty of energy left for my clients….in fact, have been very inspired, energized and engaged in my work. But at the end of the day, I’ve had enough. So….no blog posts last week. I figured no point in forcing it just to write something. Sometimes you just have to surrender.

Suuurrrender……ahhhhh….I like that sound of that. Idling in traffic for just a bit and surrendering.

In fact, it is in that very spirit that I booked a week off 3rd week in July to do………nothing, nada, or whatever.

My only commitment for that week is to not commit.

More time for surrender coming up. Sigh. Feels good just to think about it.

In fact, I’m starting to feel more rested already. In fact, I think I feel an idea coming……

 Nope. False alarm.

But check back real soon cuz that urge just may happen again. I can feel it.

Just for fun today….and to a TGIM worklife,

Eileen:)