Stress Reactions

Today I was supposed to fly at 12:15pm. I got on the flight, found my seat, (the middle, the worst), and sat down. I hate the middle seat. Especially on a long haul flight which I was on. (Who doesn’t?) I played on my phone, scrolled through Facebook, made a call, looked at pictures, and wasted a bit of time before the plane was scheduled to depart. At 12:15, the pilot crackled over the loudspeaker announcing there would be a slight delay due to a malfunction in the fuel pump and we would be leaving “shortly”. I glanced at the time. As long as we left in the next 45 minutes, I would make my connection flight even if I had to run to the gate. 20 minutes went by… 30 minutes went by… 45 minutes went by, and again the pilot crackled overhead. “Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the inconvenience, but we cannot take off with the fuel pump malfunctioning. Just hold tight, and we will keep you updated. Hopefully, we can taxi out shortly.” Well, I wouldn’t make the connection. There were worse things in life although frustrating and inconvenient. 3 hours later, the flight was canceled and we deplaned. At this point, I had one of 2 options. To move with ease and grace or to freak out. I chose the 1st option.

I took a few deep breaths to clear my mind and come back to center. I needed to make a plan. There were supposedly no more flights for the day and I needed to get to the job I was scheduled for on Monday. The rest of the passengers shuffled off with complaint to the baggage claim area, however, as I had kept calm, I was already working to find solutions. I had immediately called the company I was flying with and they put me on another flight for 11pm that same evening. I would lose a day and a half with the delay and the extended flying time, but that would get me home in plenty of time to arrive fresh and chipper on Monday. I collected my bags, left the airport and returned 5 hours later with a timely departure.

The lesson here is choosing how to react in a stressful situation. In work, in life, in our day to day moments, we have constant stress assailing us. Many times, we cannot control the situation, but we do have control of how we react to the situation. Simply taking one deep breath changes brain chemical and function from flight of fight to relax and rejuvenate. When our mind is relaxed one can make better decisions in business as well as in life. Imagine an important negotiation. If you are calm and collected vs. jittery and at high stress levels, you will command the meeting just as I commanded the situation in terms of creating solutions for a cancelled flight. The important 1st step is to realize you are in a stressful situation, stop for a moment, take 2 deep breaths, and come up with a solution instead of a reaction.

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