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From Overwhelmed to Overcoming: Navigating High-Pressure Situations at Work


Picture source: People Matters


Many of the things we are proud to achieve in life are not only the product of our talent and effort but also our ability to handle pressure. Pressure is a part of everyday life, whether it's a small, normal inconvenience or an overwhelming personal or professional burden that lasts for weeks, months, and perhaps years. But only a small part of life is determined by what happens to you, the majority of life is determined by how you deal with what happens to you. This principle also applies to pressure; it's inevitable, so its impact is determined by how you react to it.


So what can you do to improve your ability to handle pressure, or at least avoid choking under pressure at key moments in your career? Here are four science-based recommendations that may help.


1. Know your threshold

Regardless of your personality, the first step to handling high-pressure situations is to understand your stress tolerance level. Practical tips for developing self-awareness include getting feedback from trusted colleagues and friends, evaluating your performance under different levels of pressure, paying attention to emotional reactions yourself in potentially triggering situations and evaluating your character. The more people you ask, the better idea you'll have of your reputation for managing stress and pressure. Your coworkers may even be able to point out specific situations that trigger your stress response, perhaps ones you've never noticed before.


2. Identify your pressure triggers

As you gain a better understanding of your personality and how it influences or relates to your tendency to handle pressure, you will be able to better identify the exact triggers that exceed your default comfort level. While your overall ability to handle pressure depends largely on your personality, no matter how calm or responsive you are, some situations will cause more negative reactions than others. For example, you may be someone who is never stressed at work but is easily bothered by your family, or someone who enjoys working with others but is easily stressed by your boss.


3. Foster Healthy Responses

When we are stressed and overwhelmed, we easily fall into bad habits, such as eating unhealthy things, consuming too much caffeine, not sleeping, not exercising, and generally not taking care of ourselves. It's easy to rationalize these habits when you're stressed, but taking care of yourself when you're under pressure actually gives you more energy and helps you stay focused. Make sure you eat fresh, healthy foods like lean protein, vegetables, and healthy carbs, drink plenty of water, and make time to exercise. Spending time meditating at the beginning and end of each day also helps clear your mind and is a peaceful and healthy way to start and end your day, especially when life is chaotic. Spend time with friends and family. Go outside and breathe fresh air. You'll handle pressure with more focus and grace if you cultivate healthy responses to stress and make sure you take care of yourself.


4. Set Boundaries

If you're feeling pressured because people are giving you too much work or asking too much of you personally, it's time to set boundaries. With our phones and laptops, many of us feel available 24/7. Maybe don't answer emails after going to bed, put the phone in another room. Try to manage the expectations of friends and family who ask a lot of you, so you don't burn the candle at both ends. If you don't spend time with your family because of work commitments, tell them you'll come over for dinner after the project deadline and tell your friends you haven't seen each other in a while. This lets people know you're thinking of them and gives you the space and time to complete your work priorities.


5. Take Time To Recharge

No one stays on the treadmill forever. We all need to schedule time to recover and recharge after stressful and chaotic times in our lives, whether that's just sleeping, getting a massage, getting some fresh air or going on vacation. No one is always at the top of their game, when you are exhausted you will become a better person and more professional if you take the time to recharge.


6. Seek Support

If life and work are simply too much for you to handle, you should reach out for help. Delegate some tasks to colleagues or people under you and tell your boss you've reached a breaking point. If you are struggling with some personal issues, if you have the means, call a therapist who can help you work through them. Spend time with loved ones you will support and will help you through difficult and stressful times. You do not have to handle things by yourself, you can reach out for help.


Source : Harvard Business Review, Forbes


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