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!