Fight the Freeze
Our most primal reactions to fear, before fight or flight is to flinch or freeze. Unfortunately, that freeze can last beyond the physical and into an emotional freeze when we feel overwhelmed and panicked by the lack of control or by too many options/things to think about.
One strategy to get this under control is to focus on the single next best move to relieve the workload on your frontal cortex, the region of your brain responsible for planning and action. Long term strategy is important, but we can’t get into that headspace until we move through our own panic and overwhelm.
Focusing on a single, next best move that can be accomplished quickly can help alleviate this.
When we feel powerless and perceive we have no control over our life, dopamine release is inhibited. Dopamine is the pleasure & reward neurotransmitter and has a huge impact on our ability to feel empowered, energized, and optimistic.
Essentially, as dopamine goes up you feel better and as dopamine goes down you feel worse.
One way we can train our brains to increase dopamine release is to create structure both for ourselves and those we’re leading, to have a positive anticipation of rewards and completion of goals. This is a piece of the puzzle of why gamification is so successful. A great book for gamifying meetings or session is Gamestorming.
By building in the behavioral habit of quick and consistent wins, you feel empowered by taking action, increase the reward neurotransmitter dopamine, which has a direct impact on your sense of control, decreasing fear and increasing positivity and a returned sense of control.