5 WAYS TO DEAL WITH STRESS
Work can be stressful. However, rarely is it a continued period of stress or high-pressure. Most of the people I work with experience periods of high and low pressure. The success of the high-pressure periods comes down to the way we act around the work. All of our actions around the work itself play a massive role in our levels of happiness and composure during these times of high-pressure.
Here are 5 things that I do that really help me to handle and deliver during periods of stress:
#1 – LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE
The first thing to do is zoom out. Usually what has happened when we’re really feeling the pressure is we’re zoomed right into the situation that we’re stressed about – and this is usually work. So step back, look up and remind yourself of what’s really important. Think about your friends, your family, your loved-ones. Realise that whatever happens in your work situation, they will all still be there for you and will still support you. Doing this exercise is a great way to take the pressure off.
Sometimes if I’m seriously zoomed in, I look at the really big picture. I try to get my head around the fact we’re on a spinning planet (apologies if you’re a flat earther) that is flying through space at 10,000s mph. This appreciation of the context of life helps me to realise there’s more going on in the world. The point here is to get you zoomed out from the stressful situation – however you do it, this is a crucial step to dealing with pressure.
#2 – EXERCISE
Exercise is one of the most important weekly activities at any time. Clearly exercise brings lots of physical benefits, but it’s also fantastic for mental health too. Which is why it’s important to still make time for it when you’re stressed and in a high-pressure moment. Exercise releases endorphins into your body, and in plain English, endorphins make you feel good. The impact of exercise is huge, making you better at focusing, helping you to be more present and also boosting your self-esteem. These things are all crucial in your battle to get through a high-pressure time, so make sure you keep exercising.
#3 – MEDITATE
I understand that meditation isn’t for everyone – the fact is it’s actually hard. For years I battled to make meditation a constant part of my life, and I wanted to make a 20 minute meditation session part of my morning routine – I failed. It just didn’t suit me. However, now I make sure I fit smaller periods of meditation in whenever I can. If I can in the morning then great, and if not, I’ll try in the evening.
It’s something that I highly recommend, as it’s a fantastic way to clear your head. When we’re dealing with high-pressure periods, often we lack clarity. Meditation helps to re-gain this lost clarity. As a starting point, go onto YouTube and find a short guided meditation with lots of positive comments and reviews. If you don’t enjoy the guided part, then try yourself. Just sit, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. It sounds simple, but the benefits are real.
#4 - GET LOTS OF SLEEP
Similarly to exercise, sleep is absolutely crucial for mental health and performance. Sleep is the time that your brain uses to recover and re-build from a day of thinking. Yet, similarly to exercise, during periods of high-pressure we tell ourselves that we don’t have time for sleep. A lack of sleep is a sure-fire way to reduce your ability to deal with the pressure and to let your performance drop.
I have always been a morning person when it comes to work. So my strategy during these high-pressure moments is to go to bed early and get up very early. This has two benefits for me. Firstly, I get the sleep that I need. Secondly, getting up very early, and getting started with the work day makes me feel on the front foot. Subconsciously I feel ahead of the game, if by 8am I’ve already got a lot of work done. This is a great way to start the day, and takes the pressure off in a big way.
#5 - TAKE IT AS A GOOD SIGN
The final thing to do here is to take this period of high-pressure as a good sign. It means that you have lots of responsibility and that lots of people are relying on you – this is a really good thing! It means you are good at what you do, and that people trust and respect your ability to deliver – well done!
If this idea doesn’t excite you or please you then it may be a sign that you are in the wrong job. So really take the time to think in this way, and start to consider if you like being in a position where people rely on you, or if you’d rather be in a place of less pressure. For me, this realisation is a massive motivator to deliver when I’m feeling the pressure. However, I probably couldn’t get to that realisation without carrying out the first 4 steps…
During high-pressure periods, we tend to start self-sabotaging. All of the things that we do in normal periods that are good for us and help us – exercise, sleep etc – we just chuck to the way-side. We tell ourselves that we don’t have time for these ‘luxuries’ during times of high-pressure. This actually couldn’t be further from the truth. These periods are the times that we need to make time for these activities.
One thing that helps here is looking ahead. Look ahead at your calendar, and highlight potential periods of high-pressure. When you do this in advance, you are then ready and prepared. This will help you to make time for the important activities such as exercise, sleep and meditation. So, take a look now, highlight those pressure periods, and start planning your stress-handling schedule.