How do you stay calm when deadlines loom, the kids are misbehaving or you’re faced with upsetting news? We all know it’s easier said than done. Putting a plan in place, to stay in control and on top of overreactions, is the way to go.
Avoid overreactions, to stay calm under pressure.
1. Put things in perspective
Always put things into perspective, so your body doesn’t bear the brunt of overly-dramatic thoughts.
Most reactions to ‘stressful’ scenarios, are overreactions. If, upon reading that, you’re already defending your reactions, chances are it happens often. That’s not to discount serious issues or the usefulness of expressing emotions. The problem is, most of us feel anxiety far too often, for too little reason.
For example, you receive a string of emails outlining the flaws in a project that’s performing badly. Your heart beats faster, your breath is shallow and your hands sweat. You’re already moving into ‘flight or fight’ mode, so your body is exhibiting the symptoms of stress hormones flooding it, similar to those you’d experience in an emergency.
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Our bodies aren’t designed for a constant overload of stress hormones, which is partly why stress leads to health issues. Always put things into perspective, so your body doesn’t bear the brunt of overly-dramatic thoughts.
2. Reframe your emotions
Scientific studies suggest that reframing labels, emotions and even embracing stress, leads to better outcomes. After all, often a bit of what is labelled ‘stress’, is useful in motivating you to meet a deadline or even get out of bed when you’ve been up all night with a newborn baby.
For example, if you have a presentation in the morning, nerves may quickly turn into fear, which results in stress. Instead of letting those emotions take control, invest time in reframing them positively, to understand that what you feel is perhaps just anticipation of doing a great job. That way, you can harness it for a successful result, rather than crack under pressure.
Taking a few moments to breathe correctly, halts panic in its tracks.
3. Learn how to breathe correctly
Learning how to breathe correctly is incredibly important, in order to relax and deal with pressure. When stressed, we tend to breath from our chests, instead of our abdomens. This puts excess pressure on the upper chest and shoulders, while increasing anxiety.
To receive the benefits, including clarity of mind and a sense of calm, place both hands over your stomach near your belly button. Breathe in so that you feel your stomach expand and out to feel it contract. Doing this for just a few minutes is an effective way to stop panic and reframe your thoughts and emotions. Most importantly, it’s the easiest, most natural way to stay calm under pressure.
Nicole Leigh West
Nicole Leigh West is the author of fiction novel, 'The Gypsy Trail' and an internationally recognised travel and lifestyle writer.