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March 4, 2016

Under Pressure!

Jo Jones



Coping under pressure. What a topic for me to post about - today of all days!

I've just returned to work after a nasty two-week stint of tonsillitis. I have an overflowing inbox, five or six pieces of work at varying stages of completeness to catch up with, and this blog post, which is due to publish in four days. Am I feeling the pressure? Just a bit!

Pressure, as described by singer Freddie Mercury, "burns a building down, splits a family in two, puts people on the streets." OK. So I may not have quite reached that limit yet, but I am certainly feeling rushed, apprehensive and ever so slightly panic-stricken. (Some people might describe the exact sensation as "freaking out.")

We all feel the pressure at one time or another, whether at work or at home. (Don't get me started on the mountain of housework and clearing up I need to catch up on, after two young children have been allowed, it seems, to roam free and unsupervised around the house for 14 days.) That feeling of running out of time or energy, or both, or of not quite matching up to someone's expectations of you, or even to ones that you might have set yourself.

Sometimes you can feel pressure building, for example, when your work piles up over time.  Other times it can come as a complete shock, like when you're given an urgent and important task to complete at short notice. Whatever shape or form it arrives in, it's something that can't be ignored. In fact, it's almost impossible to, and, if you try, you can run the risk of burning out.

I think that pressure is best dealt with head-on. Here are some of the ways that I try to cope with it:

  • Ask for help. If you feel like you're drowning and there's no way you can resurface on your own, ask someone to help you. Being ill doesn't stop you from worrying about all of the things that you should be doing, because they still need to be done. After two days of not being able to eat, drink, swallow, or even move, I decided that it was pretty unlikely that I'd be able take my children to school, pick them up, cook them dinner,  or function as a parent in any way. Enter my Mom! Getting help when you need it can significantly reduce the pressure you're under.
  • Talk to people. They say, "A problem shared is a problem halved." Let people around you know that you're feeling the strain. Sometimes just describing your concern out loud can take a weight off your mind, and even allow you to look at it from a different perspective.
  • Make a plan. Decide on the action you need to take to reduce the pressure you're feeling. This could be creating a plan of how to complete a piece of work, or making a decision to ask for help.
  • Have a "cuppa!" Stop. Get yourself a drink and take five minutes to relax and refocus. You can't begin to deal with anything until you are calm and prepared. (Tea is also very soothing for enlarged tonsils!)
  • Be prepared. Accept that pressure is a part of life and that it will strike again. Find the coping mechanisms that work for you and be ready to draw on them whenever you need to.

Today's article looks at the different kinds of pressure we can feel, and offers effective ways to cope with it.

How do you cope with pressure? Share your tips and join in the discussion below!


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4 comments on “Under Pressure!”

  1. The core issue of the pressure, or, in other words, what the pressure will do is impacting the normal way of working. If we could address this issue then we will not feel the pressure instead we will start to think it's a bit extra work what we've to do. To get that frame of mind, we've to normalize ourselves from "pressurized-mind-set". This can be done by involving ourselves in things/work that give pleasure or feel good to our brain like music, playing favorite sports according to individual's own choice. If we allow ourselves to get ourselves dragged away by the pressure what all of us will do is skipping our daily routines and if we don't allow ourselves to skip our daily routines that means we can still cope up with pressure because we are never feeling that pressure

    1. Hi Karthikeyan,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that it is our perception and mind set related to the events that creates the pressure rather than simply something external being forced upon us. Developing strategies to release those feelings of pressure then enables us to better deal with whatever is causing it. This is along the lines of 'emotional self-regulation' that helps us to re-regulate our emotional responses to situations.

  2. I think "pressure" is really the stress we feel and how we react to it. In any event, I recommend stoping, prioritazing and planning the task at hand. If it involve information from other people, request that and mention that you do have a deadline to meet, but try to stay calm at all times. The only true pressure that cannot wait is what EMS and Firemen or police face at times of real life threatening situations. So, unless you find yourself in one of those, keeping your cool is the most imporatnt thing, so you do no act precipitately. If necessary, take a walk to the water cooler and drink a cup of water, take a deep breath. Then go back and just get started on the task, you might even finish way before the deadline, as long as you don't panic!

    1. Hi Elisio,
      You make a very valid point about no need to get stressed about the situation, unless it is a real life-threatening situation. I grew up in that kind of environment where if no one was dying then there was no problem!

      Everyone experiences 'pressure' and demands to do things in certain time frames yet it is how we react to these demands that makes a difference. Your suggestion of taking a walk, catching your breath and then tackling whatever it is that is causing the 'pressure' is a good way to approach all things. I often simply say 'pause, take a breath and now what?'.

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