High-pressure moments as a (fun) challenge

High-pressure moments as a (fun) challenge

Most people see "pressure situations" as threatening, and that makes them perform even less well. 

But, "when you see the pressure as a challenge, you are stimulated to give the attention and energy needed to make your best effort." 

To practice, build "challenge thinking" into your daily life.

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Is this high-pressure situation a good opportunity? Sure. Is it the only opportunity you will ever have for the rest of your life? Probably not.

Before an interview or a big meeting, give yourself a pep talk: "I will have other interviews" (or presentations or sales calls). 

Focus on the task

Instead of worrying about the outcome, worry about the task at hand.

That means developing tunnel vision. When you keep your eye on the task at hand (and only the task at hand), all you can see is the concrete steps necessary to excel.

"What-if" scenarios can be your friend. By letting yourself play out the worst-case outcomes, you're able to brace yourself for them.

The key here is that you're anticipating the unexpected. Instead of panicking, you'll be able to (better) "maintain your composure and continue your task to the best of your ability."

In a pressure moment, there are factors you have control over and factors you don't. 

Focus on the factors you can control, not on the "uncontrollables," that could intensify the pressure, increase your anxiety, and ultimately undermine your confidence.

Remembering your past success ignites confidenceYou did it before, and you can do it again.

Once you're feeling good about yourself, you'll be better able to cut through anxiety and take care of business.

Belief in a successful outcome can prevent you from worry that can drain and distract your working memory.

Anxiety and fear are stripped from the equation, allowing you to act with confidence.

When you're under a deadline and the world feels like it's crashing in, you're particularly prone to making careless errors.

To depressurize the situation, focus on the here and now. Tune into your senses. What do you see? What do you hear? How's your breathing?

By listening to music, you're able to literally distract yourself from your anxiety.

The idea here is to create a (brief) routine that you go through in the minutes before you present or perform, Weisinger and Pawliw-Fry suggest.

A "pre-routine" prevents you from becoming distracted, keeps you focused, and puts you in the "zone" by signaling to your body it's time to perform.

When you're in a high-pressure situation, it's natural to speed up your thinking. It can lead you to act before you're ready. 

Slow down. Give yourself a second to breathe and formulate a plan. You'll think more flexibly, creatively, attentively, and your work will be all the better for it. 

Telling someone else about the pressure you're feeling has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress.

Sharing your feelings allows you to examine them, challenge their reality, and view a pressure situation in a realistic manner.

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RELATED IDEAS

1. Remember human beings work well under pressure.

Some of us naturally know how to work well under pressure. Even those who are not so naturally gifted learn to adapt. Because we are survivalists, we love challenge and we like to accomplish difficult tasks that keep us going. Hence, people mostly succeed rather than fail under pressure.

So, don’t view pressure as a negative, but rather embrace it and see it as an opportunity.

5

IDEAS

  • Positive stress mindset: recognizing that stressful challenges can sharpen your focus, strengthen your motivation, and offer opportunities for growth.
  • Negative stress mindset: viewing stress as unpleasant, debilitating and negative.
Learn to be ok with discomfort

If you know you have a high-stakes event coming up, become familiar with feeling pressure and learn to work through it. 

For example: If you need to give a presentation to coworkers, rather than practicing on your own, try out your speech on a couple of friends. 

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