I Just Need Some ‘Me’ Time!
Nervous energy, anxiety or stress?
‘When the demands placed upon us at work exceed our resources, and we feel we can no longer cope’
Yes, that sums it up nicely! You’ve had a stressful day – there’s too much work, deadlines are tight and you’re worrying constantly about the consequences of not getting it done. Perhaps your manager (also stressed) will shout at you? Not a pleasant situation, and the last time was horrible. Now you’re also imagining what the next time will be like. It’s the end of another working day, and you feel exhausted, irritable and on edge. What is going on?
Stress and your brain
When you feel stress, you often spend your day in a state of constant anxiety. Basically, you’re stuck in fight or flight mode, that wonderful caveman survival instinct designed to assist us whenever we feel threatened or in danger. You perceive a threat, and fight or flight is switched on, releasing adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream. There are physical effects (increased heart rate, raised body temperature, sweaty palms, butterflies in the tummy), but the main problem is the amount of nervous energy it gives you, which you are supposed to use to stay alive – either fight back or take flight! But you’re in the office, not about to engage a sabre-toothed tiger in mortal combat!
Here’s the thing: once you have dealt with the threat, the fight or flight mechanism is supposed to switch off. It’s only meant to be used in temporary, short-term bursts. The problem is that stressed-out people see threats around them at work all of the time, so they go into fight or flight mode and get stuck there. The nervous energy within them builds up throughout the day, and at some point it will have to be released!
What can you do?
Let’s talk about coping networks. It’s all about finding an appropriate outlet for the pent up nervous energy, emotion and frustration generated during a stressful working day. These networks are very important, because if we can’t find an appropriate way of releasing our nervous energy, it will definitely come out somehow! This might take the form of an outburst – we’ve had a hard day, and someone says something we don’t like. Suddenly we start raging at this poor unfortunate person!
Here are some popular coping networks:
- Exercise – ever wondered why people go to the gym after work, or go running? Obviously a healthy pastime, but also an effective way to burn off the nervous energy accumulated at work. Any form of sporting endeavour can be useful here.
- Talking things through with family, friends and colleagues – Perhaps after you’ve played sport, it’s time for a drink in the bar? Over a nice glass of something, the conversation usually starts with ‘you will not believe the day I’ve had…’
- Hobbies and pastimes – any activity which allows you to relax for a while!
There are no hard and fast rules here – it’s each to their own. Some people like to take the dog for a walk in the countryside, or learn to play an instrument, or wallow in a hot bath, with essential oils, scented candles and whale song!
During a stressful day at work, nervous energy accumulates within us. That energy is going to find a way out at some point, and it’s better for everyone if we can control how and when that happens. As discussed, there are a number of possibilities available so find the coping network that works for you. After all, we all need a bit of ‘me’ time!