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Pressure to Perform

A typical secario! You have too much on your plate, deadlines are looming, and to top it all off, people are counting on you. You are under a lot of pressure to perform, so much that at times you suspect the quality of your work suffers for it. This is life in the modern workplace. It is more or less impossible to be any kind of professional these days and not experience frequent bouts of intense stress. The difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t is not whether or not you suffer from stress, but how you deal with it when you do.

Managing stress is a mental game. Many people, male and female, often see work situations as threatening. Fearful thinking undermines your self-confidence, diminishes your energy and negatively affects your physiology.  When you’re ambitious, busy, and under pressure to perform, you can have multiple stressors in your life at one time. Many people worry that the stress of success is too much, but there are healthy and meaningful coping methods. First of all, be kind to yourself.

It helps to make a short to-do list. Focus on what’s important, and limit the external noise, by keeping your to-do list to a few high-priority list you can attend to realistically and focus on. We need to understand your brain’s limitations. The brain can only successfully keep a short list of problems and thoughts together at the same time. Be realistic, go easy on yourself, and don’t expect yourself to carry every solution in your head at once. That brings us to the usefulness of having an external organizer. Don’t hold all the ideas and issues in your head. Keep things in an external organizing system: be it digital calendar reminders, hand-written to-do list–however it works for you, keep a physical reminder of all your tasks, and you’ll find much less stress weighing you down. You’ll be much, much more prepared to face challenges when you’ve thought through steps to overcome them ahead of time. Be prepared for as many situations as you can think of; it will absolutely be to your advantage when the time arises. The need and importance of planning cannot be undermined.

It is so important to be optimistic. Part of remaining calm is controlling your own feelings–and it is possible. Find a way to look on the bright side of situations, and you’ll find your outlook will be more positive. We need to understand that not all problems are solved easily, but that they can be solved. The solution is available, but it may take some time. If we accept this, and it will no longer control you.

The mantra of being grateful always works. This is major in terms of overall happiness: people who are grateful, more than any other factor, are happy and have a positive outlook on life. Like the most successful people, take the time to count your blessings every day. We need to re-frame our negative thoughts. Put each situation in perspective by stopping the alerted, frantic worries, and instead reminding yourself: This can be handled. This is not the end of the world. First, I’ll do X. Then, I’ll do Y… and so on, until you’re feeling empowered.

Our body takes the toll of stress and we need to take care of it. Getting the proper amount of sleep is one of the most important things you can do to ensure optimal cognitive function and mood; sleep well and you’ll feel balanced and calmer. No one can handle everything alone, and truly successful people understand that. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your trusted network or coworkers for assistance when situations are getting out of control.

If nothing else works for you, do the first thing that we did when we were born – breathe. Put a pause on the crisis. Breathe in, breathe out, and slowly count to ten. It’s an age-old suggestion that truly works. When you give yourself a moment, you’ll clear your mind of worries and give your brain a moment to recalibrate so that you can approach the problem in a calm way. Your body language has been shown to have a real effect on your brain’s outlook. So, smile and adopt a power pose. Soon, the feeling will be real.

When we think about it, whatever high-pressure situation we’re facing is really just a blip on the radar in comparison to the rest of our lives. By “zooming out” and keeping this perspective, we’re better able to handle our emotions.

There’s a reason stress is a universal emotion: It’s biological. It urges us to act against a perceived threat — and that can be a powerful tool if used properly. We should allow stress to motivate us, but not control us, Think of it this way: Steam and pressure can propel an engine. Let the pressure to perform be the adrenaline to make us work better.

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