Last night, just as the sun was setting, I was walking my roomate’s dog down a very popular trail in in the Denver Tech Center. Ten feet to my left  on the trail was a Heidi’s Deli and ten yards to my right was my neighborhood. It doesn’t get more suburban than this area. I have always been a person very aware of my surroundings, especially at night,  I even carry mace on my key-chain “just in case.”  One of the biggest reasons I moved to DTC was the safe ambiance I felt walking outside. I never imagined this would happen.

As I was coming down the trail I let Copper, a beagle, off of his leash.  As usual he frolicked in the grass and sniffed everything in sight. Unbeknownst to me, there were three coyotes hunting us in the the bushes only a few feet away. They started to slowly surround us just as you would imagine three thugs in an alley that wanted to take your purse, only my fear was they wanted Copper’s life and possibly mine. If you think this sounds like the movies, that’s exactly how it felt. Surreal.

In a moment’s notice, my body went from a state of peace to being filled with adrenaline. You have so many thoughts running through your mind; when you were seven and your girl scout leader told you on that camping trip what to do if you run into a bear, how you’re going to tell your best friend her dog’s dead, would the coyotes go into attack mode if I started running and more importantly would Copper follow me. My heart felt as it was close to beating right out of my body. The adrenaline doesn’t leave room for you to cry, but more so,  you run through all of your thoughts as fast as you can imagine and apply them in a way that you can have the best outcome. Copper dying wasn’t an option. I yelled at the top of my lungs, stood on my tippy toes and acted as big as I could and violently shook my keys. I don’t know that I scared them but I definitely confused them and after several minutes I scared Copper enough with my crazy woman antics to cower over to me. It wasn’t yet over.

As soon as I got Copper back on his leash I ran up a grassy hillside into the Heidi’s parking lot and all three of them chased me. Then I booked it…I ran so fast his collar came off his head. Trembling, I put the collar back on and raced across the street, stopping traffic with my hands. It seemed we were safe but nothing was certain until I hit my front door. Running as fast as I could we finally made it. As soon as my door was closed I started to sob. Physiologically my body has never gone through an adrenaline rush that intense. Everyone has moments of an adrenaline rush but this was the longest I had ever been in the “Fight or Flight” response. I was drained emotionally and physically.

This morning when I woke up to go to work I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I’m not a doctor but I know that physiologically that adrenaline release had seriously affected my body and mind. My nerves felt completely shot. Which is where the deadline comes in. I was on deadline today for an important sales proposal.

Most people know the rush of adrenaline you get when you have a deadline to meet and the state of mind you need to focus. I still felt so stressed and depleted from the night before. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything right and I was being short with my colleagues. All of this made me feel guilty and I was sure no one wanted to hear about my coyote story or think it was a valid excuse for being less than myself.

Luckily, I work in an organization with amazingly supportive people who undoubtedly care about your mental health.  I was able to share my story at work and it immediately helped my coworkers understand. Many people truly underestimate how important managing your stress is and how greatly it can impact your work productivity. My situation was intense but it certainly wasn’t a long-term issue. It did, however, severly affect my mind and productivity the next day. Many people don’t share the stressors they are having in their life. They may be uncomfortable  sharing their story or it may be a situation that needs serious and proffesional attention. Either way, this is just another great example of how important an Employee Assistance Program can be to an organization’s productivity.

If you are finding yourself in a stressful situation please visit the following links from MINES and Associates for Stress Management Techniques:

Not all of us have a saber tooth tiger (or coyotes) chasing us at work. However, stress can be debilitating. Please find healthy ways to relieve it. I sure felt better.

Britney Kirsch, Account Management

Mines and Associates