What Happens To Your Body On… A Deadline
By Zinhlezonke Zikalala
You’re about to bite into your long-awaited desk lunch when your boss asks you to write a report – in half an hour. Cursing much?
Here’s what’s going on…
30 Minutes to go
You panic and freeze. “It’s impossible! Where do I start?” You’re hit by an onslaught of emotion that quickens your heartbeat, cranks up perspiration and blurs your vision. Your body responds by producing a large burst of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are designed to kick-start you into action, only problem is that many of us are producing them constantly to the point of depletion because of how we live our lives.
“Oh look, three Facebook notifications.” You play mind games with yourself and create other “work” to avoid what your should be facing. Rather try visualise what you need to do to complete the task. Research has proven that visualising not only reduces stress levels, but also improves your chance of success. Do this for a few minutes, then get to work.
You get the munchies. Badly. Believe it or not, eating is also a way of procrastinating. The biggest challenge in overcoming it is failure to identify that you are, in fact, procrastinating not hungry.
You struggle to focus. “Think dammit!” Getting on with the task at hand becomes difficult because of fear of failure, resentment of your time being taken away or of the person who gave you the task.
“Draft number five…” With a looming deadline, high levels of cortisol shut down other body functions – including the immune system, FYI – to direct energy where you need it most. Once these hormones get depleted, you experience brain fog and adrenaline burnout, lessening productivity. Eish.
You give up and just go for it. With stress levels managed, you respond quickly to your urgent task, thinking becomes clearer and you get into the zone. The first step is to accept that there will always be unexpected crises in life. Once you’re calm, you easily begin to wrap up the task.
With minutes to spare, you submit your best work. Serotonin (which affects mood and social behaviour) is release making you feel good and satisfied, building confidence for your next task. Experts recommend saying “done” after every task you get through to trigger those feel-good vibes.