In our fast-paced world, expectations can be overwhelming. Being the best at (absolutely) everything, being attractive, being successful, or simply being available for the needs of others can cause an overload that can be difficult to deal with.
Learning how to keep calm under pressure is important for your mental, emotional, and physical health. Stress can manifest in many ways for many different reasons. Simply commuting to and from work can result in a racing heart, feelings of anger, or anxiety.
You need some basic tools to help you cope with whatever life throws at you. You have the power to control the things in your life that push at you, that hurt you, that cause you to feel less.
Keeping Calm Under Pressure in Five Steps
- Know the signs, know the triggers. Sometimes, it seems easier to “ignore” things that make you stressed. If there’s a person in your life that consistently turns your peace of mind upside down or if you work at a job that you dread going to, it might be hard to see ways out of your personal situation to a point of peace, calm, and happiness. When you recognize triggers for stress, pressure, or anxiety, you can dial your reactions down.
Seeing those people or situations as they are (rather than how you think they should be) is the first step to addressing and ultimately solving the problem. Never, ever lie to yourself. You deserve to have a life that isn’t filled with anxiety and hopelessness.
- Face your fear with logic. My friend has a mantra whenever she’s freaking out. When she feels fear, stress, or uncertainty, she asks herself, “What’s truly the worst thing that can happen if I make this choice?”
Based on what most of us are faced with on a daily basis, the outcome is not typically death or physical harm. Asking for a raise, your boss could say no. Getting a divorce, your spouse could make life miserable for a time. Speaking in public, you could feel nauseous or simply not be good at it. Talking to a person you’re attracted to, they might not be interested.
Our brains interpret many situations as “fight or flight” but most of the stress we deal with in the modern world is not so extreme. Face your fear logically by outlining possible (realistic) outcomes and don’t let your emotional state take over.
- Stop for a moment and breathe. This is something we all do by necessity, an automatic system function…yet, you’d be amazed what truly breathing will accomplish to help you calm under pressure. No matter the situation, go into a bathroom for five minutes to settle your mind, focus your thoughts, and breathe deeply – all the way into your belly. It provides more oxygen to the blood which helps your brain to concentrate, your heartrate to slow, and your emotions to settle.
If you’re truly in a “fight or flight” scenario, then there might not be time for deep breathing but most of the stress in our lives is not life or death. They are honestly “small” situations that feel enormous because you’re in the midst of them, faced with stress at that moment. Pause and see those situations clearly, honestly by breathing and giving your logical mind time to take over.
- Turn negatives into positives. Follow through the “worst that could happen” logic to another outcome. For instance, instead of stopping your thought process at the negativity surrounding a divorce, look beyond that to living a calmer, more fulfilling life without the stress of a toxic relationship that isn’t working. Instead of stopping at the possibility of losing your job, ask yourself if it might not be time to start that career you’ve always wanted or if a change might be the answer you’ve been looking for to leave a stressful work environment. Rather than worrying about how you performed in your public speaking, consider the content of what you had to say and how it will impact others.
Keeping calm under pressure is easiest when you practice a positive life, a state of mindfulness, and always maintain your sense of gratitude for the good things.
- Change the game, change your life. You get one life to live and it’s important that you make it a good one. “Habits” often become the rut of our existence. Things are done “this way” because that’s the way they’ve “always” been done.
Be a pioneer in your life. Ask yourself why you simple deal with stress and pressure in your day-to-day living. Consider what you could change if you had the opportunity. Then start making those opportunities happen. Rather than allowing fear to overtake you, feel anticipation about what you might discover by taking a new path.
The way we perceive things in our life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Over time, if you perceive yourself as a failure, you will limit the risks you take…failing by never beginning.
If you perceive yourself as weak, you will surround yourself with people you consider stronger (not always in positive ways) and it will reinforce this self-perception of weakness.
If you perceive yourself as unworthy, you will slowly withdraw from situations socially and emotionally, ending up alone through choice rather than preference.
Go bravely into your life. Seek challenges, opportunities, people, and situations that are going to make you feel successful, strong, and worthy. As you chase your dreams and fulfill your potential, keep calm under pressure because with the right mindset, there is no doubt…
You’ve got this.