How To Calm Down When Under Pressure

Sep 9, 2019

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m highly strung and emotional. I can’t help it. I can’t sit still. I need to be busy all the time. And when something upsets me, I get really upset. I’ve tried a number of techniques over the years with some great results, so I’d like to share them with you. In some instances, I’ve found one or two techniques more effective than others. I just played around until I found the right one for that moment.

 The Ruler Method

This is a practical technique that I learned whilst employed. We had the most wonderful EQ coach come to speak to our team. She mentioned this method by Miriam Adahan. Let’s say you’re under pressure to meet a deadline. Look at look at a ruler that is numbered from 0 to 10-0 being the feeling of blissful sunbathing in Bali and 10 the feeling of being caught in a war zone. Now try to plot yourself on the ruler. Perhaps initially your sweaty palms and racing heart tell you that you’re at a 10, but in fact you’re probably at a 6 or 7. This is not life-threatening. The trick for the me was to have the actual 0-10 ruler in my work space to act as a visual reminder.

This Too Shall Pass

A very dear family member who passed away once told me, “Enjoy your children when they’re young and don’t rush back to work. They grow up so quickly and before you know it, they’ll be out the house and you’ll be bored.” He taught me how to savour life. I had to learn the reverse on my own-how to avoid feeling overwhelmed when things get tough. When the pressure is on, it’s easy to feel suffocated and isolated. Just as the good times pass, so do the tough ones. Nothing is permanent. If we hold this perspective, we allow ourselves to be in the moment and suck the nectar of life and also to persevere through the darkness because waiting on the other side is the dawn.

Find a Distraction

We all have activities that we enjoy-going for a walk, practising some yoga or meditation, going out for a quick cup of coffee or reading. When the pressure is swelling, it may be best to distance yourself from the situation and enjoy a healthy distraction. I found that in the last two years of practising Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), I’m far more equipped to deal with stressful times when they arise. You need just 10 minutes a day and it has wonderful benefits on one’s brain and body. Choose something that you enjoy. There’s something to be said for really loud happy music and bit of dancing for a stress release.

Work in Parts

There’s an old African proverb that asks “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “One bite at a time.” This doesn’t come easily to less practical folk like me. Workload and chores can pile up around us and all we can manage to do is throw our hands up in despair, feel our muscles tensing and take our frustration out on those in close range. This technique is about taking the entire workload and breaking it up into bite-sized chunks so that we can digest them, so to speak. It may be worth starting with a task that you find easiest or one that would be good get out the way. This will give you traction to move to the next one and build the necessary momentum to finish what you found so daunting to begin.