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Pressure Can Be a Killer – 12 Steps to Release it

Explodindg Head from Pressure
Image Credit — carton-king@iStock

The Negative Power of Pressure

Is the pressure so great that you sometimes feel like your head is going to explode?

Have you ever wanted to scream, STOP! I want to get off this roller coaster called life?

There is no time to enjoy anything, there is too much that must be done.

Do you sometimes think, if one more thing happens you will lose it completely?

There are days when your life feels completely out of control.

The pressure just keeps building and building.

Life Is a Pressure Cooker

You are not alone in the way you are feeling.

Regardless of the type of work you do, you have too much to do and not enough time to do it.

Expectations continue to escalate and compassion for an individual’s well-being seems to be non-existent. Responsibilities and obligations continue to pile up and there is no relief in sight.

You have been on this wild ride for so long it seems normal. You know it is hurting you, but you can’t seem to stop.

Relief is in sight; there are things you can do.

Below are 12  life-changing steps you can take. They are not necessarily easy, but they are worth the effort and will make a difference:

1. Stop Pretending to Be Superwoman

No one expects you to be, except maybe you.

So, let that go! Accept your humanness.

Pressure situations have the potential for mistakes — and you will make them.

But… if you slow down enough to think things through, you will be able to use your experience and skill to give it your best and make every effort to avoid mistakes. That’s all you can ask of yourself.

When you accept that you are human and mistakes are possible, you will be less likely to self-flagellate when things take a dark turn — especially pressure situations.

Acceptance of your fallibility can help you relax. With the tension gone, knowledge, talent, and expertise are accessed more easily.

2. Pick Yourself Up…

Dust Yourself off… and start all over again when one of those inevitable mistakes are made.

Think of failure as a lesson. You learn what not to do, which gives you the confidence to try again and do it right.

Approach every pressure situation as “one moment in time.”

Prepare, do your best, and whatever happens — happens.

Even if you don’t reach the highest pinnacle of success every time, you will have many, many moments to do so.

Breathe deeply, relax, and give it all you’ve got in that moment. A mental note that you have multiple opportunities to succeed will lessen the pressure.

3. Listen to Your Gut

When asked to take on more work, pay attention to your instincts. What does your gut say? “Absolutely Not” or “Hell yeah!”

If you instinctively know the answer is NO, hold your ground. Your intuition is there to guide you through life, so use it.

A good response that can make saying “NO” easier is, “Thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t commit to more work (or an additional project) right now and give it the attention and effort needed to do a good job.”

If it seems like it may be a good opportunity, say you will get back to them.

Then, evaluate the offer.

  • Does it negatively impact your work-life balance?
  • Do you realistically have the time required without jeopardizing your current responsibilities?
  • Do you have the expertise, or are there others more qualified?
  • Will it significantly contribute to reaching your short-term or long-term goals?
  • Be sure to factor in your gut instinct.

When you have the answer, graciously accept or decline.

4. Turn Mountains into Molehills

Anticipation can be a terrible thing, especially when facing a pressure-filled event — but, it is always worse than the reality.

Negative anticipation can turn any event into an impossible mountain that you must climb. But… there are no mountains. They are all molehills.

The more you anticipate disastrous outcomes, the more likely they are to occur.

Constant worry makes any task feel insurmountable. It creates physical and mental tension that will prevent you from doing your best.

Change your thought process — anticipate positive outcomes to relieve the pressure. This will diminish the magnitude of any event to a molehill.

You will be free to concentrate on making sure you succeed.

5. Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Pressure can be distracting. It causes you to focus on your fears, rather than the goal.

Focusing on your fears makes you forget why you are there, and what you want to accomplish. It is difficult to maintain composure and give optimum performance.

When you keep your eye on the prize (laser focus), you diffuse the pressure and have the power to do what you need to do.

6. Expect the Unexpected

Every situation is impacted by the vagaries of nature and the universe, which means you must be prepared for anything

The best way to prepare for the unexpected is by asking and answering the question, “What is the worst thing that could happen?”

Then, have a contingency plan, if it does happen – and move forward.

When you expect the unexpected (and are prepared), you can remain poised, calm, and on top of your game no matter what.

7. Be Your Own Best Friend

Pressure can turn your thoughts negative. You may suddenly remember every time you have dropped the ball; every mistake you’ve ever made.

Rather than dwell on the negative and beat yourself up, support and encourage yourself the way a best friend would.

Forget about the failures and concentrate on your successes. Pat yourself on the back while enjoying good memories.

The fears will fade and the pressure will diminish.

8. Visualize Success

Seeing yourself succeed is an effective technique for handling stress.

You have an upcoming meeting to close a deal with a client. You cannot fail! The future of your career may be riding on it.

Take a few minutes to sit or stand in a quiet place. Gather your thoughts and concentrate. Visualize yourself doing everything right. Walk through the meeting step-by-step, as well as your role in each step. See every detail as clearly as possible.

Visualize and feel yourself convincing the client that there can be no choice but to sign with you.

Repeat the process several times each day prior to the meeting day and one final time just before the meeting.

Visualization keeps negative pressure at bay and empowers you to succeed.

9. Practice Positivity

Pressure-releasing steps
Image Credit— Anyaberkut@iStock

Pressure is a negative force. So… you must stay positive when dealing with it. Studies show that survivors tend to be people who remain positive when in danger.

Trying to survive a pressure-filled situation can feel like trying to survive a life or death situation. In both cases, the outcome is critical.

A strong, positive attitude is required to resist the natural tendency to go negative in a pressure situation.

Positivity will help you win the battle and enable you to perform at your highest level in every situation.

10. Embrace the Moment

The human brain is programmed to fight for your life or flee from the danger. Pressure can feel like a life-threatening situation.

A common reaction is the desire to run away, which breaks your concentration.

Instead of trying to flee, confront the situation head-on and fight. Embrace the moment and stay focused on the task at hand.

The instinct to fight a danger is just as strong as the instinct to run away. So, use your instincts and start swinging!

11. Control What You Can and Forget the Rest

Pressure situations typically have many variables. Things happen over which you have no control. It’s important to accept that fact and take charge of the things you can control — YOU and your performance.

Don’t focus on someone else’s performance, or worry about anyone’s reaction to your performance.

Your focus must be on YOU and on doing your very best.

12. Have an Affair 

Make a commitment to fall in love with your life. Make it the most amazing love affair ever.

Starting today, accept and embrace your life as it is — right now — regardless of what’s happening, or what may happen.

Accept every part, the good and the bad. When you love life simply because it is great to be alive, you will begin to focus on the good; and you will find ways to deal with the bad.

The enjoyable parts will begin to overshadow the less enjoyable. Seeing life as a happy adventure will help you accept pressure-filled situations as challenges rather than obstacles.

Having a love affair with life means accepting and loving it all unconditionally.

It Is Time to Release the Pressure

Remember, pressure is a part of life. You can’t run away from it, but you now have techniques to deal with it.

Start implementing these pressure-reducing techniques today!

Take it one step at a time — practice a technique until it becomes a habit, then work on the next one.

Keep in mind that new habits develop slowy; so, be patient with yourself. I know you can do it.

You will begin to feel better and enjoy life more every day.

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