In compiled reports at the American Institute of Stress, one report revealed that 40 percent of workers find their job extremely stressful, and another reported that 40 percent need help learning how to handle stress, as some participated in physical violence or called in sick because of it. These are sad statistics showing how much people struggle with pressure, whether at traditional workplaces or work-from-home settings.
When mismanaged, this pressure can ruin health, reduce enthusiasm, create brain overload, and even birth a negative character – all of which destroy productivity. However, when you learn how to maintain tranquility even when faced with extreme stress, the same can also extend to their productivity. Check out these science-backed tips on how to stay calm under pressure.
1. Understand the Fight or Flight Response
When you perceive something as stressful or scary, a brain area known as the amygdala sends a danger signal to the hypothalamus which is the command center that relays that signal to the rest of the body. This leads to what’s called the fight or flight response. In a work crisis situation, you may fight by fixing the crisis with all kinds of unplanned tactics or flee by choosing not to deal with the issue. Neither will do you any good.
You get stuck in the fight or flight reaction to exhaustion until you realize it and that you need to save yourself. The first step before positively dealing with pressure is to realize and accept that it’s there. Understand this is how your body works and acknowledge it before doing anything drastic.
2. Breathe Slowly
After accepting that you’re under pressure, slow down your breathing since you’ll then be overwhelmed and your heart would be racing shallowly. To stay calm under pressure, you have to calm down and relax, and breathing can facilitate that.
According to the directions from a Harvard Health Publishing article:
- Go to a comfortable place where you can sit or lie down quietly.
- Focus on your deep breaths, which create a rhythm to shift your focus from stressors.
- Do this for 10 to 20 minutes.
3. Name Your Emotions
By now you’ll be quite relaxed, the survival mode will be diminishing, and you’ll start thinking clearly. You need to identify the feelings you’re experiencing at the moment. This will help you interrupt the negative feedback loop you’ve been holding onto because you’re overwhelmed.
A brain-imaging study by UCLA psychologists reveals that when one labels an emotion they’re having, it calms the amygdala because they’re able to process it. Putting the emotions in words helps you calm down. That’s why journaling is so important.
4. Redefine Your Emotions
While identifying emotions will calm you down, you can remain in a worrying mode. But worry doesn’t help you solve problems. You need to think more clearly and know the reasons behind those emotions. This will help you figure out what to do about it.
Change your perception of:
- Fear to expectation
- Dread to caution
- Worry to concern
When you relabel your emotions to depict the reason behind the negative feelings, you can bring your amygdala to understand that this isn’t a fight or flight moment but a “be watchful” or “I’ve done my best” moment. You will be able to decide the next step within your control or stay relaxed knowing you’ve done everything in your power.
5. Indulge in Stress-Releasing Activities
When you have a crisis underway and have done everything in your power to manage it with the utmost of calm, don’t stop there. Instead of giving your body a chance to accumulate any stress, increase the chances of releasing the tension with any of the following activities:
- Talking to someone
Those are just some of the many things you can do to relieve stress. You can also go on a cleaning spree, sort through a tough puzzle, sleep, etc. Just make sure what you do helps you relax, and most importantly, is healthy for you. Activities like binge eating will not be helpful.
Follow the above steps for staying calm under pressure, and you’ll develop emotional resilience to tackle tougher pressures with less effort. You may even start surprising people with your calmness during crises. Check out how to reduce your stress level and learn how to handle stress in this modern era.