How to stay strong and focused when the pressure is on
A Poem To Start
Opens the office door - light streaming in
Feels the stress surge, all day long carried on
A buzzing caged bird - its cries are muffled but demanding
The looming nightmare-work too much to handle
Introduction: How to stay calm when your boss is breathing down your neck?
Working in business can be challenging, especially when there is a lot of pressure. Being stressed can cause significant damage to your health and it can turn you into a walking zombie, where even the most basic conversation is an effort.
Stress is a natural response to high pressure situations, but it is important to learn how to deal with it.
When you are under pressure, it is easy to eat badly, sideline your exercise regime, and you might even find you start skipping sleep. This can be a serious problem if it goes on for too long.
Being a manager and being a leader can be particularly stressful. Dealing with difficult people, long hours, and not enough sleep is frequently part of the day to day job. And often you may find yourself being asked to work on projects that seem impossible and unrealistic.
But whenever you are put under pressure it is important to stay calm. Panicking is the worst reaction you can have. It's not good for you, but most importantly it is not good for your team. You need to show that you are still in control and can handle whatever is thrown at you.
But how exactly do you accomplish this? This article explains some of the best coping mechanisms which will help you deal with stressful situations at work so that they don’t affect your performance or well-being.
What is stress?
Stress is a natural response to an abnormal stimulus. It's a feeling that we all experience at some point in life, and it signals that something needs attention.
Stress is an important response to certain situations, as it heightens your focus and prepares you for action. But stress can be problematic when it becomes chronic, intrusive, or when the person is unprepared for it.
Chronic stress leads to higher blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and other health problems. The body reacts by producing hormones such as cortisol which increases our metabolism and makes us more alert. This reaction helps us deal with acute situations, but if these conditions persist over time they can lead to serious consequences.
Chronic stress also affects how we think about ourselves and others. We may feel like we are not good enough, have no control over what happens around us, or believe there is nothing we can do to change things. These feelings of helplessness make us less likely to take action in the face of adversity. In addition, chronic stress causes a decrease in immune function so that if we become ill, the infection becomes harder to fight off.
Ways to deal with stress
The occasional feeling of stress at work is normal. Not everything is going to be perfect all the time. But when these feelings go on for too long, it is essential to have some tools you can use to address it. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to remain calm and deal with stress in the business world.
Your first step is learning to breathe properly. This is especially important if you know you're about to be in a situation where you will be put under a bit of pressure.
You may not consciously be aware, but when you are in a stressful situation you will often hold your breath. So learning to breathe properly will reduce stress, and make you more confident at your job; you will also be able to relax better.
The best way to breath when under pressure is to focus on your belly. Start by taking deep breaths, and inhaling in for 4 seconds and exhaling for 8 seconds. The exhalation phase is more important than the inhalation phase, as exhaling stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which will cause your heartbeat to naturally slow down.
After a minute or so you should find yourself more relaxed and calm.
2. Emotional Freedom Technique
EFT (emotional freedom technique) is a method of tapping on acupressure points on your body to release negative emotions. EFT reduces stress by re-balancing your emotional state. You can use this technique on yourself or with a friend, partner, or family member to help them overcome negative emotions. The beauty of EFT is that you can use it anywhere and anytime. It is very quick to do and requires no equipment.
There is a lot of positive research on EFT and studies have shown it can help with, not just anxiety and stress, but deep-rooted trauma and PTSD. The technique is very easy to learn (it will take less than five minutes to master it). And there are plenty of videos available on YouTube demonstrating exactly how to do it.
Here is a video of the world-renowned self-help guru demonstrating EFT:
3. Meditation to reduce stress
Meditation has long been known to be an extremely effective way to reduce stress. There are many different ways to meditate. But the most common one is Focused Meditation.
Focused meditation means that you concentrate on a single object. You will have to choose something that is meaningful and specific to you. For example, it could be concentrating on your breath, or perhaps chanting a mantra, or even focussing on a comforting object. The most important thing is, that whatever you choose, it should be something easy and reassuring.
Steps for focussed meditation:
1. Choose something meaningful to focus on.
2. Take your time to focus on that object.
3. Be present but relaxed throughout the meditation.
4. When you feel that you are done, take a break for a while.
5. Enjoy it. Don't push yourself. Meditation should be pleasant and something you look forward to. Avoid putting pressure on yourself to be perfect. If your mind wanders during the meditation, take a break and start again.
4. Integral Eye Movement Therapy
Many people who find themselves in stressful situations are starting to use a little-known technique called Integral Eye Movement Therapy (IEMT). This technique is based on the idea of using eye movements as an alternative way to relax our bodies and minds, and it's been used by many different cultures around the world since ancient times.
Generally, IEMT is used to address physical or emotional issues that are causing feelings of anxiety or other high levels of stress.
How does IEMT work?
The official IEMT technique was created by Andrew T. Austin in 2007. During this therapy you are asked to remember highly stressful situations and combine that with specific eye movements.
Eye movements and careful questioning are utilised to quickly process and release negative feelings from painful memories, and change unhealthy beliefs and deep emotional imprints (such as how we have learned to feel or act).
While allowing for conscious interaction with one's surroundings, moving the eyes in a specific manner along different spatial axes, and focusing on a remembered or emotional moment will trigger different parts of the brain to help release these memories and emotions. If this activity happens in a relaxed atmosphere, the past events are accessed and processed, so that the emotional attachments to these memories are released. This whole process enables you to break free from the underlying causes of your anxiety.
It is important to keep a level-head even when the going gets tough, because it will make it easier for you to make decisions and think clearly.
There are many ways to treat the symptoms of stress, and it is worth trying them all to see which works best for you. If you can conquer your anxiety you will find your job much easier and more rewarding.
Awareness of your limits, physical and emotional, is also crucial, as well as awareness of the limits of those around you. It's easy to get caught up in the drama of life, but if you stay focused on yourself and your goals then everything else falls into place.