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Control Your Stress and Growing Out of The Red Zone with Dr E

by Ley Calisang


We have all dealt with it before, irrational demands at work, sleepless nights, and a surge in stress levels that rivals your brain’s comprehension. The truth is, You never know when you will be called to deal with irrational demands. Competition is fierce amongst colleagues — this would pit top-tier talent against each other to be the best. While also instigating brand-new endeavors that put you (and your successes or failures) under the microscope or members of your team pulling in different directions.

Now is the time when you need to be on your game, but when you are already feeling a lot of pressure, it is practically impossible to provide your best effort and lead successfully.


Prepare your mind for learning.

You may find that stress sneaks up on you at times. Still, most of the time, you can anticipate stressful events or recognize a rising scenario to take action before entering the “Red Zone,” which is defined as having stress levels of approximately 7 out of 10. Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., a psychologist and success coach, advocates “looking at the things that set off negative emotions in you and then taking proactive steps to deal with those sentiments.” The 2022 WFF Leadership Conference in Dallas and online featured Lombardo’s educational presentation on how to be an effective leader in challenging situations. Lombardo is the author of several books, the most recent one being “Get Out of the Red Zone,” a best-seller.

It makes sense to prepare your brain for stressful situations so that you will be in a better position to steer yourself and others away from the danger zone. When under extreme pressure, it is practically hard for the brain to think properly. Preventative measures include the following:


  • Recognize and avoid the triggers that set you off. Lombardo encourages you to “address the areas you recognize trip you up.” If your stress levels are growing because you feel invalidated, unrecognized, or unloved, ask for what you need or even offer it yourself. Spend five minutes being compassionate to yourself in the same way that you would be compassionate to a close friend, acknowledging that you are doing the best you can in a difficult situation and asking for more encouragement from others.


  • Consider how you can defuse tense situations before engaging in discussions or disputes that could turn physical. For example, it’s possible that even if you’re expecting a colleague to react angrily, there are points where you agree, and you may turn to those for a while to allow everyone to cool down.


  • After finishing a stressful task, make sure you have a reward ready and waiting for you so that you may look forward to it. Taking a quick break with a valued coworker after a stressful meeting could be just what you need. Or, you decide to order lunch for the team after a major presentation and agree that none of you will discuss work for the following hour.


  • Get your day off to a good start. Do activities that make you feel good such as listening to lighthearted music, watching comedic videos, getting some exercise, practicing meditation, or simply spending time with one’s children. According to Lombardo, research conducted before the pandemic revealed that listening to the news for three minutes first thing in the morning raised the likelihood of experiencing high stress by 27%.

Taking the reins and guiding others is no easy feat, but it is a wonderful way to be a great leader. Lombardo says, “Being a great leader requires bringing out the best in other people so that you can work toward a common objective.” This is especially important when the situation is difficult, and there might be competing interests inside the group.


A good leader needs to have the ability to assist their team in broadening their perspective and become aware of other opportunities. When you’re under a lot of pressure, it’s harder to think clearly, making it more challenging to explore alternative points of view, come up with inventive solutions to problems, and even recognize the possibilities that are open to you. Acknowledging your own and your team’s stress and then implementing stress-relieving measures is a good place to start. Lombardo employs the acronym HELM to summarize important strategies that can be utilized in the present.

The H is for halt. According to her, you should halt what you’re doing and refrain from saying anything until you’ve calmed down. Exercising and moving your body is the focus of the E. Jumping jacks, jogging, or a brisk stroll are examples of high-intensity physical activities that can help you get out of the red zone. You’re instantly shifting your perspective when you laugh, which is why the L stands for laugh. Lombardo thinks even a brief YouTube video can positively affect your mood. Finally, the M stands for music, which has such a strong emotional impact that it can rapidly take you to a happier moment or more positive sensations.


Using these methods, Lombardo adds, “you can de-stress your team members, help them reset their bodies, and get their minds back to work.” Unfortunately, it’s impossible to change many things in our lives at home and at work. Even though challenging situations and their accompanying stress can be overwhelming, we can learn to alter our emotional responses to handle them better.

The practice of role modeling is widely recognized as one of the most potent techniques available to effective leaders. You may help members of the team feel safe enough to recognize their stress, ask for help when they need it, and access tactics that can soothe, rather than intensify, difficult situations if you share and demonstrate ways of priming your brain to deal with stress, and then use techniques to bring the temperature down when stress gets into the red zone.

Buy her book on Amazon.

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