Recently, I attended a networking conference where my company exhibited. I truly did not want to be there for a variety reasons, such as wanting to be in the office working on a project. So I was already a little irritated, but I accompanied a team of my employees because I was scheduled to speak at a breakout session. Now that excited me and gave me enough energy to show up knowing that I would be pulled in many directions.
Upon my arrival ,our booth display was not there. We use a firm to manage our conference set-up. So, I made a phone call to a project manager and we were able to get that resolved. But after that one problem after another started occurring, making me even more frustrated. I turned to an employee and jokingly said that my meds were wearing off and that they can only keep me under control for so long before I pop my top. She laughed and asked if she could step in. I was more than happy to step aside and allow her to deal with the people who are now starting to come to our booth for assistance.
I write about this because you or someone you work with may need someone to step in occasionally so you can remain balanced. Having a mental health challenge can make you become agitated faster than the average bear. When this happens, you need to do the following:
Accept How You are Feeling
Recognize what makes you tick and what ticks you off. Often we feel blindsided by our emotions, but in fact you have triggers to let you know that you are becoming agitated. Start journaling your emotions so that you can become familiar with your pattern of frustration and recognize how you typically respond. I knew that I was becoming agitated when things weren't lining up, so having someone who could take the wheel saved face for me and my company.
Plan for Changes in Mood
Establish a person at work who you can rely on to be your point person. When you begin to feel anxious, you simply don't want to be bothered or you can't handle what you are experiencing. Step back and let someone step in. But this means allowing others to know that you are a mere mortal and will need help from time totime to manage bouts of frustration or mood changes. When a mental health challenge is present there is no rhyme or reason to how your mood can change. I've seen an executive lose it as people wonder what the heck is wrong with him. He needed someone to step in before he snapped and lost his cool. This isn't something that just happens, but rather should be planned for.
Slow Down and Breathe
When you are frustrated you often stop breathing as you rush to turn things around. Just slow down and become more deliberate about what you are doing and saying, and remember to breathe. Shallow breathing cuts off air to the brain, which causes you to not think clearly. This further exacerbates the problem. So, as minimal as it may seem, count to three mentally as you breathe deeply.
Unfortunately, many people do not allow others to know that they have a mental health challenge, and when things start going south they think that they can discretely handle things by pulling up their big girl panties and dealing with it. But as you become more irritated others will see this change. They may not attribute it to a mental health challenge, but it will cause them to avoid you and it may shine a negative light on you.
It's important that you remain in good standing with others by allowing others to stand in for you when possible. This could mean shutting your door and asking your assistant to run interference. It could mean allowing a trusted peer or employee to show up to the meeting and speak on your behalf, or it may simply mean rescheduling a meeting that's too important to mess up. Unfortunately, I've seen meetings and relationships become completely derailed by behaviors brought on by moodiness due to a mental health challenge.