How many times have you heard people say they perform best under pressure? In our society the idea that applying pressure to a situation will reap the best results is very prevalent. It’s such a part of our psyche that we do it subconsciously. For many of us it’s a part of life, basically second nature.
I’m not here to say whether our national obsession with pressure is right or wrong. However, I have noticed a significant pattern between my clients overall mental and physical well being and the amount of pressure they apply to themselves. It reminds me of a two liter bottle of soda that reads “contents under pressure”. Many of us are that soda bottle building with pressure until we feel we are going to explode and sometimes we do. What I see on a daily basis is clients who are suffering from putting too much pressure on themselves and don’t realize even realize it. Why? Because it seems natural to be on edge, the whole fight or fight thing.
The drawback is that our body and mind are not made to feel this way all the time. And all that built up pressure starts to feel uncomfortable. Then when we ignore the uncomfortable feeling, it turns into the physical: head ache, stomach ache, and tension. This is happening because “the contents” are under pressure and it’s building without any release.
There is no real way to avoid all pressure in our society, things will happen and the stress will build. It’s more of a matter of finding way to release the pressure. If you are an athlete and you are pressured in a tie game to win, you will naturally let go of the adrenaline and pressure through the physical activity. But what do you do if you sit at a desk all day to release pressure?
Here are some suggestions:
- Take control of the level of pressure you put on yourself. Instead of criticizing yourself and forcing yourself to work harder, add some breaks to your day. Use this time, even if it is only 3 minutes to do something you enjoy like listen to music.
- Add physical activity to your day, wherever and whenever you can, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. It will release your stress.
- Do something just for the fun of it. Allow yourself to play like you were a kid again. This type of play helps to bring the good feeling back to your brain.
- Breathe. Sounds odd since we do it naturally. The trick is to breathe deeply. Take a minute in the morning, afternoon, and evening to concentrate for 60 seconds on deep breathing. This will help you let go of the pressure and focus better.
If you work well under pressure and are able to let it go at the end of the workday then you may be naturally releasing the pressure. If you notice that you keep trying and you aren’t getting the results you desire, it’s time to release the pressure. Ask yourself why you are applying pressure and what you think the outcome will be. Then try to create other ways to achieve the same outcome that feel good to you. For many of my clients they are actually more productive when they take the pressure off and allow themselves to work at a comfortable pace.