Panic. Anger. Frustration. Stress. Call it what you wish; when you react in a heightened emotional state, you tend to make poor decisions. Understandably, it’s not easy to remain leveled-headed in life. People are emotional creatures, after all. But too many stories tell us the risk of giving in to panic.
If you are an escape room enthusiast, you are probably familiar with the last puzzle panic. Escape room designers tend to create a simple puzzle as the final task the team must resolve to escape the room. Compare to the rest of the room, the last puzzle is specifically created to be easier. Why so? Because the clock is ticking. The last 5 minutes in the room combine high stress and a sudden rush of adrenaline. Teams that need the best part of an hour to escape offer experience group panic in the last minutes as the time countdown comes close to zero. So the last code to open the door or the last physical puzzle typically takes account of their stress levels to streamline the decision process. Yet, if every player gives in to stress, the stress could still fail to escape!
In everyday situations, panic could have much more dramatic consequences. Here’s why it’s important to keep a cool head.
Be on the right side of the law in a collision
Being involved in a car crash can be difficult to avoid despite your best efforts. Even an attentive driver can’t avoid being hit by other vehicles. There is only so much you can do to avoid a collision. Additionally, sun glare, mobile phones, and other distractions can make it almost impossible to predict the trajectory of a vehicle. Granted, being hit is both terrifying and infuriating. Cars can make an awful amount of sound during a collision, which can trigger your stress response even more. You might be worried about your remaining car payments or about arriving late to am meeting. But at this point, when the crash has happened, you need to change your priority. You don’t want to be involved in a hit-and-run accident, so the top priority is to check on the other driver and pedestrians involved. Document everything with photos if you are ready to fill a report about the event. Ideally, knowing what to do will keep you leveled-headed. Your top priorities need to be:
- The safety of everyone involved, including yourself
- Call the police
- Exchanging contact details with the other party
- Documenting the scene
- Contacting your insurer and reporting the accident
Don’t give in to panic
The pandemic has made businesses more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. If you have not yet build a reliable cybersecurity system, you could be exposed to hacking risks. While you might assume that y our small business is no target for hackers, you’d be surprised to know that most hackers target primarily small companies. Corporate organizations can be tricky targets in comparison. Unfortunately, cyber incidents can have devastating impacts on your company. Hackers can access confidential data, including customers’ transaction and personal information. For customers, it can be a wake-up call. It’s not uncommon for customers to leave a company after a data breach as they seek reassurance and security. But your reaction to a security crisis could protect your customer base.
Panic is likely to drive you to find a quick solution at all costs, which means that you could be vulnerable to future attacks. On the other hand, a slow and strategic response can keep you and your customers safe as you identify the source of the attack, spot potential weaknesses that could be exploited in the future, and design a targeted cyber security response. Keep your customers in the loop at all times to let them know what you are doing to prevent new risks.
Don’t let your anger get the worst of you at work
The workplace can be a high-paced environment with tight deadlines. Understandably, it can encourage sensitivity to stress and frustration. Coworkers joking about a sensitive topic or someone blaming you for something you didn’t do can lead to extreme reactions because you already are in a stressful environment. But lashing out at work is unlikely to play in your favor. Learning some tips to unclench and relax on the spot can be crucial to moving your career forward. Something as simple as slow, deep breathing can slow down your heart rate and reduce your emotional load. Managing your anger doesn’t mean you can’t fight your corners. On the contrary, it puts you in a better position to get heard and noticed.
Stop jumping to the wrong conclusions
Nobody wants to be the partner who starts a fight over nothing. But you might find yourself becoming that guy who fails to trust their partner. Lack of trust can cause a rift in your relationship. Even though you’ve promised to trust them and support them, you can find yourself accidentally jumping to the wrong conclusion. People constantly make assumptions based on partial facts or inaccurate impressions. It’s part of our sense of self-preservation. We need to be able to predict what will happen to avoid dangerous situations. Unfortunately, we apply the same approach to relationships with people. It can backfire when you combine it with heightened emotions. The way you interpret someone’s behavior is linked to your personal experience. So, if a partner has to stay longer at work to finish a project, someone who comes from a conflicted family might assume they are cheating rather than working hard. Before you know it, you’ve created conflicts in your relationship. So, it’s important to understand why you’re making assumptions before launching into an argument.
In conclusion, we are emotional creatures who can’t completely detach ourselves from our emotions. While emotions can be a positive element in the creative process and your relationships, they can play against you if you let them control you. Most people fail to keep a cool head when existing inner crises already burden them. For instance, if you are involved in an accident on your way to a nerve-wracking meeting, you tend to feed on the existing feelings of stress to respond to the situation. Instead, you want to compartmentalize your emotions rather than letting unrelated experiences affect your reaction to a separate event.