How To Deal With Freak-Outs At Work

I experienced a moment of total, utter despondency at work recently.


Ever felt that way?


I’m talking about the kind of hopelessness that leaves you feeling like you should pack up and throw in the towel because everything you’ve poured in is being thrown out…so what in the hell are you doing there?


Yeah…not a fun place to be. And, really not a good place to be as a business owner!


Yet, being human, I suspect we all have felt this way from time to time. And, being high achievers – I suspect we are NOT willing to throw in the towel and give up (at least not without carefully evaluating all angles first).


So, what can we do when this happens? I’ve got two words and 4-steps for you that worked like a ‘friggin dream for me. In less than 5 minutes I went from hyper flight or fight mode to being a pillar of calm.


The two words are: Go Within.


As in, do not skirt around it by sticking to your schedule because “that’s what you should do” and do not distract yourself from it by calling a friend that will agree with how unfair the situation is. Both of those keep you on the outside of what’s really happening.


No. When in freak-out mode is taking ahold, there are only two options:

  1. create more
  2. create less


I know we may not like to think we “create more” of it, but this is no time to hold any punches. If you have done any of the following, you have absolutely created more freak-out for yourself:

  • tell yourself or others how bad it is
  • say things like “This shit is not worth it!”
  • let your mind run wild with all the horrible things that will happen
  • react with “I cannot deal with this right now, I have to _____.”


C’mon now, you know you’ve done everyone one of those – as have I. But here’s the thing, every single one IS A CHOICE. Now, I’m also a proponent for going through things – so one might argue with me and suggest that some of these responses allow them to go through it. I get that. AND, I’m not suggesting that you avoid them altogether. What I am saying, though – is it that ultimately you want to get to the “create less” part.


So, the million-dollar question is how to “create less” freak-out when it feels like the sky is falling down on you. Here’s where the 4-steps I mentioned come into play:


  1. Recognize when it’s happening
  2. Reach for help
  3. Seek the highest truth
  4. Breathe


Recognize is an obvious first step, yet some folks are so wound up they struggle to discern the difference between having a bad day and stepping into freak-out mode. A bad day may involve frustration, annoyance, tight shoulders and perhaps some anger. Freak-out mode is more like exacerbation, panic, rounded shoulders and lifeless arms and a ton of worry.


When you can recognize it for what it is, you can apply a different solution. A bad day may need some venting and/or walking away from the situation for a period of time. Freak-out modes are more easily fed and exacerbated – so venting can really just fuel it more. And walking away only compounds things because if it is so important that it creates a freak-out situation to begin with – then not addressing it will only make it worse.


Reaching out for help must be done with extreme care. You are in a very delicate state and I’d estimate that 95% of people will only coddle you when you’re in such a state. They naturally want to make you feel better, so they’ll support you, but offer absolutely no objectivity. When you recognize that you’re in a freak-out mode and want help, be sure you want the kind of help that will truly support you – not enable you.


IF you know someone that is awake and aware enough to help you get through the immediate feelings of overwhelm and despondency – great. If not, then either skip this step OR give them clear instructions such as “I need your help getting myself back to neutral.”


The next step is to Seek the truth, the real truth and nothing but the truth. By that I mean we are surrounded by illusions all day, every day. And while that works great for getting through much of life, when it comes to things that really matter…we’ve got to go way deeper. We must ask ourselves to honestly evaluate what we know to be absolutely true.


For example:

  • Is this what was intended for me to understand?
  • How likely is it that my biggest fear will come to fruition?
  • Is panic the only option?
  • Do I have to make a decision this very moment?
  • Does it have to work out the way I want for me to be okay?


In my experience, when approached with sincerity – these kinds of questions provide a pretty quick reset in my mind. My physical body may still be flooded with adrenaline, but at least the blinders that I had on just a moment ago have dropped away and I can see more clearly.


Finally, it’s important to Breathe. This is what addresses the very natural physiological effect that this freak-out has been having on your nervous system. It will lower your blood pressure, increase the hormones that increase relaxation and decrease stress.


Of course, I’m talking about deep breaths – as deep as you can go…and it only has to be a few to start making a difference.


Recognize, Reach, Seek, Breathe – these help you go within and find your peace. It doesn’t really matter what’s going on in the external world when you can deeply connect to your internal world, because when you’re centered you gain tremendous clarity that will ultimately help you take the best next step. Not from a place of panicked reactivity, but from a place of calm intention.


And that, my friends, is how you handle total and utter overwhelm…despondency…and those freak-out moments that grab ahold of us from time to time at work.

Over ‘n out.


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