Keeping cool and focused under pressure.
Every single person on this planet has felt some degree of stress at some point in their lives. Pressures to perform, to make deadlines or to just manage life in general. Let’s face it. Life isn’t easy and all of us need to manage these internal and external stressors daily.
When I get overly stressed, I feel like I need to slink back into my little hole and pretend the world (and thus, my problem) does not exist. I lean towards escapism more often than most which inadvertently results in a greater issue. Thankfully, I have recognised my pattern of behaviour and have found some ways to avoid the downward spiral into oblivion by managing myself.
Now, these are some tips which were useful to me, based on my own experience. They’re merely suggestions – you do what is best for you.
1. Step back.
When circumstances are overwhelming, disengage. I don’t mean to completely abandon everything and escape to Mexico. But I do mean you need to remove yourself completely from the situation to a place where you can be calm and think rationally. Things always threaten to overwhelm us when we get our emotions too heavily involved.
So when my pulse is thundering, my mind is in chaos and I am far too anxious to sleep at night, I find myself in my personal prayer closet asking God desperately to help me. You might not subscribe to faith of any kind, so you do whatever you need to in order to return to that state of calm. For me, my Christian faith in God helps me to do this. Of course, I still have to do what I can, but by praying, I am trusting God to shoulder it with me.
When I’m stressed, my thoughts are like a hundred bullet trains on a collision course. Everything is messed up, nothing makes sense and I’m on the verge of exploding. It helps to have a big picture of some sort or detailed steps to achieve your goal. I like to draw flow charts or make lists on paper to help me to reorganise the clutter that’s in my mind. At times, I will even take to my environment and do some decluttering of my things. I’ve discovered that the more disorganised my environment is, the more cluttered my brain probably is.
3. Take care of yourself.
I find that I fall into stress mode especially when I haven’t been well. If I don’t eat right, move about or get enough sleep, it makes it much harder for me to cope with what’s on my plate. It’s important to know yourself and how much you can handle – physically, mentally and emotionally. Self-awareness is the first step towards managing yourself in moments of duress. Which brings me back to point #1. Take a step back and get yourself sorted before you get the stuff sorted.
4. Ask for help.
There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. Perhaps a fresh perspective from another party is necessary in order to shed light on your situation. Even pouring out your troubles to a family member or close friend will help you emotionally at the very least. Often times, I’ve found that getting things off my chest makes the burden a lot less heavy. My friends may not have solved anything, but they have helped me immensely simply by being there and lending me a listening ear.
Admittedly, I am horrible at this. Sometimes we do far too many things than is necessary. I’m still trying to work smart and doing what is purely necessary, excellently. It does not help that I am somewhat of a perfectionist (hopefully not an obnoxious one). However, when time is not on your side and you are facing a time crunch, there’s little time to spend on frills. Many times I’ve had to tell myself that this is what I can do given the circumstance, so I had no choice but to simplify. Big dreamer that I am, I often dream big without being terribly realistic. Try not to do that. Focus on what is essential.
These are just 5 tips that I have somehow picked up by learning from others or from navigating my own life. Ultimately, cut yourself some slack and allow yourself room to grow. Enjoy the journey instead of rushing to reach your destination.
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