Last week we talked about what you can do when you feel a Chemical Brain Freeze (CBF) coming on during stressful times. One of the things I mentioned was gratitude. This is a very powerful tool for two reasons.
1. Your mind can’t hold fear and gratitude together at the same time. Gratitude wins out every time.
2. With gratitude you release some great chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) that combat cortisol and it’s adverse side affects.
After you have stopped and taken a couple of deep breaths its time to work on gratitude. If you can quickly recall a story about something that you are truly grateful for, something that has an impact on your life, you can get your mind to release these chemicals to counter the CBF. Here is my favorite gratitude story:
It is one of those beautiful spring days where the butterflies are testing their wings on the breeze and the grass blades are making their way up through the warm ground. My five-year- old daughter, Lindsey, and I are at the park for some exercise. She is on her girly-girl bike and I am on my roller blades. We get to the end of this long path and stop for a water break.
There is a huge oak tree with big limbs going out in every direction. One big limb goes out over this little creek, and someone has tied a rope around the limb and left it hanging. Lindsey sees the rope and asks, “Dad, can we swing across the creek?”
Of course being the prudent father I say, “No. We don’t know if the rope is strong enough much less the branch. Plus if something happens, we fall into the mud and gunk in the creek.” These all seemed to be good fatherly reasons that little girls understand so well.
Her response was “We never get to do anything fun!”
I’m standing here thinking, “Here we are in the park on a beautiful day riding and skating and she thinks we aren’t doing anything fun!” Then it hits me “So when do you do something fun like this?”
I said, “Ok, let me try it out and see if the rope and branch will hold us.” I get out of my skates and find a long stick and pulled the rope over. I gave it a good tug or two and then preceded to jump out over the creek, everything holds fast and I swing back and forth a time or two. Lindsey was squealing with delight on the bank.
I tell her, “I’m going to bend down, you put your arms around me and then wrap your legs around my waist and hold on tight. We’ll go on the count of three. Ready? One, two, thhhhrrrreeeee,”
There is nothing sweeter in the world than a 5 year old giggling hysterically as you swing out over a creek. She is holding me tight around my neck. When we get done she is just grinning from ear to ear. Later that night when I put her to bed she is still talking about the swing. I leave her room and walk down the hall and I hear her calling me. I walk back into her room and ask “What’s up?”
She says, “Daddy, I was still thinking about swinging over that creek with you and I can’t get this smile off my face!”
This is my story that helps me do the chemical battle to rid myself of the toxins from a CBF.
You need to come up with a story you own which will allow you to go deep about being grateful and be able to do some chemical battles against the toxins. In times of stress, the story and gratitude that you conjure up should be so strong that you don’t have to go through the entire story. With the story just shared, I only have to think about Lindsey’s arms being around my neck and I can feel a calmness come over me within moments. It’s the ability to stay in the game during difficulty and stress that allows leaders to excel and lead on to great things.
Thanks for coming along!