“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” –William James.
Have you ever wondered what is the best way to keep calm under pressure? Lifehack shares the best strategies to keep your cool and carry on when stress runs high:
1. Learn how to defeat the panic signals
When we are in danger or facing a really challenging situation, our minds and bodies go into the ‘fight or flight’ mode. Find ways of combating these ‘fight or flight’ reactions. The best way is to use a relaxation response.
2. Learn how to breathe properly
One of the most effective ways to train the relaxation response is to learn how to breathe properly. The secret is to inhale deeply so that the chest and stomach are filled with air. If you are lying down, you can easily feel your stomach rising by placing your hands over your belly button area. Then exhale slowly. As you do so, concentrate on the movement you feel and also repeat a mantra such as ‘breathe in’ and ‘breathe out’. Simply put, you are now channelling the autonomic nervous system into much more productive activity which will be extremely useful in fighting the panic response.
3. Learn how to get things into perspective
Learning how to prioritize and re-evaluate our talents, skills and experience is a great way of building self-esteem. This can also help us to put things into perspective when we are facing a critical challenge.
4. Learn how to avoid negative people
You are in control but not when you are surrounded by anxious, negative and cynical people. Learning how to avoid these people is crucial especially when preparing for an extra stressful event.
5. Learn how to be grateful
When you are under pressure, cortisol is released and functions well as a sort of lubricant for the nervous system. The problem arises when long term, constant stress produces too much cortisol and this in turn can damage the nervous system. One great way to reduce cortisol is to regularly practice gratitude. Gratitude can reduce cortisol by as much as 23%, and provides added benefits in improved physical and mental health.
6. Learn how to re-label emotions
Re-label the ‘fear or flight’ emotions. For example, fear can become anticipation while dread can become caution. Being under pressure can be simply re-labelled as being courted! If you are successful with this technique you become watchful and aware rather than being frightened and ready to flee.
7. Learn how to get in the ‘zone’
The more you practice something, the more automatic it becomes. Getting in the ‘zone’ or ‘flow’ where extremely heightened focus and immersion in an activity can lead to really superb performances. There is a perfect match between your skill level and the challenge you are facing.
8. Learn how to get on auto-pilot
According to Lifehack:
“There are experiments which show golfers performing lousy swings after being told that they should watch the position of their elbows. The secret here is that our conscious attention is hijacking our perfectly honed motor skills and we normally perform, speak or run much better than this! Ramping up pressure like this is not helpful. If I tell you to watch your grammar before your presentation, then your performance may be less than your best. Sports teams know all about this pressure when their fans get too enthusiastic and noisy, especially when playing at home.”
Just tell yourself that your sweaty palms or beating heart are not signs that you are going to fail! They are just the side effects of somebody who is ready to give the best performance in his or her life. Tell yourself that this test/match/interview/presentation is no big deal.
9. Learn to look after yourself
So, you are under pressure. But what steps are you taking to make sure that your body is going to perform well on the day? That means looking after all the essential maintenance such as diet, sleep, exercise, and relaxation. Did you know that if you have too many carbs in the morning, your blood sugar may fall? That can lead to bad temper, whereas if you get enough protein, this can keep you going for much longer without that annoying sugar crash.
“Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.” –Dalai Lama
To learn more tips to staying calm, cool and collected, read the full article on Lifehack here.