Sometimes it can feel like you are carrying a piano on your back. Pressure can really weigh you down.
Too much pressure can make a lot of us angry, feed up or sad. Or simply, over time, knock you out cold with a burnout.
Now I don't how your mind works but personally I perform better without a lot of pressure. It's easier to focus on your task and not second-guess or hold yourself back when you feel light and relaxed.
Like most problems in life this one is mostly in our minds. You can actually remove some of that pressure before it gets the best of you.
Here are a few of the things you can do to accomplish that.
1. Don't listen too much to others.
Or worry about what they might think. Or getting their validation.
If you use too much time and energy to focus on these three things you may be heading down a pretty harmful road. And the thing is, most people aren't thinking about you, what you do and your problems as much as you may fear anyway.
They are busy with being focused on their own life and challenges.
An important part of this is to not to see yourself through the eyes of others. Doing that can build a self-image and expectations that become very hard to live up to.
It can make you end up filled up with negative feelings and that won't help anyone. And, as I said above, you don't really know what people think about you anyway. Your worries about what people may think about you are probably mostly in your head.
What they may actually think about you shouldn't take too seriously anyway since it's just their opinion.
And such things are often more about the guy/gal with the opinion rather than the person/thing they have an opinion about.
2. Forget about perfectionism.
Perfectionism is pretty pointless. It's just you putting unnecessary pressure on yourself and thereby reducing your ability to do excellent work.
Take a look at the next point to find a better replacement for perfectionism.
3. Focus on the process, not on the outcome.
Detaching from the possible outcomes and just keeping your focus on the work you are doing makes it easier to both live and live up to your potential by reducing many of your inner, mental obstacles such as performance anxiety and other worries.
4. Be OK with mistakes and failure.
This one ties in to the two previous tips. If you allow yourself to redefine mistakes you'll be less prone to get yourself stuck in perfectionism.
And the world won't collapse if you make mistakes or fail.
The morning of the day when you learned to ride a bike you fell off it time and time again. But you just brushed yourself off, perhaps cried for a minute or two and then you got up on the bike again.
And towards the afternoon, or the next day, you probably started to become pretty good at riding your bike. The same applies here.
You have work on your skills to sharpen them. See failure or rejection not as something incredible negative that might end your life if it strikes.
Redefine it in your mind to lessen the negative emotional impact and the fear. See failure simply as feedback on what you need to improve on.
Listen to the advice that failure gives you and you will improve.
5. Just do it!
If you often get stuck in procrastination and get little done the pressure can start to build up.
“Just doing it” is a great way to get out of an overthinking or procrastinating state and just get going with what you want to do.
But that's not always so easy. Then everybody would be doing it.
So, what's the problem?
I think two important factors are that you may get too wrapped up and too closely identified with your thoughts and emotions. But you aren't them, you are the observer of them.
So you don't have to obey what your thoughts or what your inner emotional resistance may say. You can get going anyway.
6. Cut down on busywork and unimportant stuff.
Feeling like you just have too much to do and too little time for the most important things?
Then you probably need to do some decluttering in your life. Eliminate some of the less important stuff.
To prioritize and find what's really important to spend most of your time on, both at work/in school and life in general you can use the 80/20 rule.
To not get stuck in that unimportant busywork ask yourself: “Is this, what I'm doing right now, useful?” a few times throughout your day.
To remember to actually ask yourself this, consider writing it down on a piece of paper and put that paper where you can't avoid seeing it. Or use that question as your screensaver.
I also think it's important to realize that you don't really have to do everything you are doing. You always have a choice. Sometimes there will be big consequences if you choose to do or not do something.
But you always have a choice.
And if you choose to spend more of your time on the most important stuff and less – or none – on the unimportant things your life will most likely improve in any area you apply this thinking.
7. Don't take things too seriously.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't do a good job. Or that you should avoid responsibility.
But having the attitude that the sky will fall down if something goes wrong is most often inaccurate outside of your own head. And it's not a good headspace to be in to perform or feel well.
I guess this one ties into many of the other tips but I think it's good to emphasize how helpful a more relaxed attitude can be both for you and the people around you.
Realize you have a choice about what attitude you should adopt, just like with what you choose to do/not do. It might take some time to replace an old and ingrained habit for another. But over time you can do it
8. Take 30 belly breaths.
This is more of a temporary solution compared to the ones above. But it's also an immediate one.
If you are feeling pressured and stressed out right now, you can use a few dozen belly breaths or so to relieve some of that for a while. Here's what you do:
– Sit in a relaxing position with your legs apart.
– Put your hands on your stomach. Using your stomach breathe in slowly through your nose. If you are doing it right your stomach will expand and you'll feel it with your hands.
– Breathe out slowly through your nose and do it with some force so you feel your stomach pull slightly inwards towards your spine.
– Breathe in and out 30 times. Take slow and deep breaths.- After you have taken 30 breaths and focused on counting them you should not only feel more relaxed and centered. Your body will also be able to continue breathing in this manner without you focusing on it. And that's it. Continue with your normal day.