Picture a red light flashing in your head and the sound of a wonky evacuation siren- that's your personal RED ZONE
. The Red Zone is the state when your mind and body is in extreme stress mode creating symptoms like a racing heart, insomnia, panic and lack of mental focus. It's a place where there is no space to think and everything seems urgent. We have all been there and some of us are probably there right now.
Author Stephen Covey's signature 'Quadrant' as outlined in his bestseller, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, would classify the RED ZONE as the URGENT and IMPORTANT part of the quadrant. That's the place where the activities are crises, pressing problems, urgent, and of a fire-fighting nature. Covey warns against spending much time in that part of the quadrant. Before you can effectively move forward with any of your life and business plans with any degree of ease, you must first get out of that paralytic RED ZONE.
4 STEPS TO GETTING OUT OF THE RED ZONE
1/ RED ZONE DOWNLOAD
First you must identify what is causing your current state. Naming those things takes some of the charge out of them, and will help you feel calm and more in control again. Use the attached RED ZONE Download list or grab a piece of paper and write down everything that is contributing to putting you in the Red Zone right now. This is a list of the stuff that is taking up space in your head, not necessarily a TO DO list of action items. Note: This is an 'IDENTIFY' list, to simply create awareness of where things are at (with no judgment).
2/ RED ZONE EMERGENCY CHECK-IN
Look at your list - is there anything on that list you would classify as a real emergency?
Something that if you don't attend to in the next 40 minutes will create serious life-threatening repercussions? If the answer is YES, then please stop reading this and immediately attend to that main thing.
3/ RED ZONE ACCEPTANCE
Now that you have taken care of the life and death things on your RED ZONE LIST -
take an objective look at what you have written. Does it make sense that you are on mental overload? Aha! I thought so! Acknowledge that it is perfectly understandable that you feel the way you feel. Take a moment wherever you are right now and breathe into that knowledge. Take a few deep breaths right down to your belly area, your core. Open up chest out of that constricted state you are holding yourself in, roll your shoulders, relax and run these lines through your head: "I am in control. I have everything I need inside to get out of this overload RED ZONE state. I am OK. "
4/ GETTING OUT OF THE RED ZONE
Remember we need to take emergency measures to get you out of the dangerous RED ZONE. Once out of the zone, you will have some space and mental bandwidth to be able to more rationally and more creatively strategize your go-forward plans.
PRACTICAL ACTION STEPS:
1/ Say an absolute NO to any other commitment (If something comes up that you absolutely MUST or WANT to do, then you must wipe something else off your current plate.)
2/ Start methodically (and temporarily) backing out of regular, non-critical events (e.g. / your monthly book club, etc)
3/ Get serious with your list. Is there anything else you can defer without causing serious repercussions? If so, then defer them. Leave them on the list and mark a "D" beside them for "Defer". They will be there for you when you decide to do them.
4/ Put 5 minutes twice a day in your calendar - to close your eyes and breathe. Set your alert to remind you. Even 5 minutes of focusing on your breathing will open up mental space.
EMOTIONAL AWARENESS EXERCISE:
This is the tricky part of the RED ZONE. Sometimes there may not actually be too much on your plate, yet there could be one thing that feels so emotionally important that it has the energy of a crisis and fills your head and clouds everything else. You have to diffuse that block first to get out of the RED ZONE. Run yourself through the following questions (preferably with the support of a friend or partner) to help you acknowledge what is really on your mind taking up space, what you want to do about it, and then what you are going to do about it.
1/ What is it that has taken over your mind? It is important to get real here about what this is really about. Acknowledging it takes the charge out of it right away.
2/ What would you like to do about it? (Ask what is your best solution, or what condition do you want - even if it feels impossible). Write that down.
3/ What one action will you take to move towards resolving this right now?
4/ How could you think about this slightly differently so it didn't take up as much head space? (This is where you really take control - It's YOUR CHOICE - you are the only thinker in your own mind)
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET OUT OF THE RED ZONE:
RELAX ... Breathe...and enjoy your new-found mental bandwidth.