Stress, a very common phenomenon, is often expected to live with throughout life. In this fast-moving world, it feels like we are juggling too much and experiencing stressors from a variety of aspects.
While avoiding stress is a goal for most of us, this habit often affects our self-esteem during stressful situations. Stanford Psychologist Kelly McGonigal says that viewing stress more positively helps people stay stronger in high-pressure moments. And as managing stress has a direct link to performance, successful performers highly focus on their ability to keep calm under pressure.
Before moving on to the techniques that you can use to foster better stress management, let us first briefly understand the reasons for breaking under pressure.
Reasons for Breaking under Pressure
Breaking under pressure means when your feelings of stress, anxiety, worry, etc. hampers your usual ability to perform. According to Explicit Monitoring Theory, stressful situations cause people to over-analyze their task execution more consciously which interferes with their natural ability to perform the task. People who are more self-conscious, anxious, and fear being judged by others are more prone to break under stress. Distraction Theory suggests that performance also suffers when our mind is preoccupied with doubts, fear & worries, and thus shifts our attention from the task at hand.
Then, how to Hold oneself under Pressure?
While psychologists have discussed numerous techniques, I have tried to discuss the most highlighted and the easiest four of them to get started immediately to enjoy some life-changing results.
Take a Step Back to Relax
Do you feel the physical & mental changes at the onset of stress? A racing heart, feeling of uneasy, and a cramped up mind left with no space to think properly. This is when a purposeful pause is a must, to collect your thoughts and act more wisely.
Find a quiet place, suppose a restroom. Long and calming inhales instead of short and quick anxious breaths are highly suggested during these high-pressure moments. This will stabilize your heart rate, blood pressure, and mind.
Practicing Yoga can help you release stress from tense muscles like the neck, shoulder, and back as mentioned by Yoga for Stress Relief. Besides, chanting your mantras like “Keep Calm”, “Relax” or any religious mantras, and self-motivating yourself with positive talks can also sustain self-command under pressure.
Breakdown your Work in Single Doable Tasks
Every project or task is mainly a collection of single actions. After taking the relaxation pause, jump to work starting with writing down all your doings for the task. Do not panic thinking that this would buy a lot of time from your deadline.
Then take up one task at a time, and thus at the day’s end create a portfolio of at least one completed task rather than several half-touched tasks. In the case of a single-day project, a clear outline will help you jot down points under all the required headings. Avoid multitasking, as multitaskers do less, miss information & drop their efficiency by 40%, according to cognitive studies.
Learn to Deal with Discomfort
We are aware of some of our triggers of stress. To specify, someone who fears public speaking may experience nerve-wracking anxiety before presentations and interviews. There are also other triggers like deadlines, decision-making, etc. The first way to control it is to recognize your stressor and then take slow but steady steps to ease it. For example, regularly talking in front of a mirror, saying out dialogues from movie scenes, or preparing speech before friends & family will slowly remove your discomfort from public speaking.
Some Lifestyle Changes
Appreciating your current state and achievements so far will lift your mood and energy and thus will reduce stress hormone cortisol release by 23%. Keep yourself aloof from constantly thinking of all the possibilities that can or could have happened. Stop making yourself available somewhere 24/7 and take a break for yourself for a mental recharge. Try to check your level of caffeine intake as it drives the release of cortisol or stress hormones and results in chronic stress as studied by Caffeine, Stress and Your Health. Finally, bless your body and mind with an ample amount of sleep to start your day with enhanced self-control, attention, and positivity.
Practice makes everything Perfect
While everyone is familiar with breaking under pressure, remember that your efforts can help you take control over these ugly situations and walk you through them with confidence and success. Practicing the techniques with persistence will improve your quality of life by embracing stress with positive responses.
Do mention through a comment how you were able to ace one of your stressful days. Your strategies will also be our takeaways.