Many different factors can provoke high-pressure situations. Changes, such as moving, starting a new job, or getting married, can be highly stressful, as can work or academic deadlines. Moments of high pressure trigger our flight/fight/freeze responses, making it even more difficult to overcome stress and pursue goals. In spite of this, there are many ways to de-stress under pressure. Regularly practicing mindfulness and using grounding techniques can greatly help overcome stress.
Regularly Practicing Mindfulness
Any activity that promotes your mind to remain in the moment is an effective way to practice mindfulness. By practicing mindfulness regularly, it becomes a stronger skill that can be more easily applied when necessary. For example, if you are struggling with a heavy workload/deadline, the stress can feel very overwhelming. You can use your skills of mindfulness to help regulate yourself. Focus on the task at hand will reduce stress and anxiety. Practicing mindfulness regularly strengthens the skill and conditions the mind to rely on it at times of need. When we practice any skill, we can apply it more quickly at times of stress. A professional athlete depends on the regular and frequent practice of specific skills to succeed in competitive situations. Similarly, you need to practice mindfulness so you can use it effectively when you need it.
A healthy, well-balanced routine of self-care enhances your ability to handle stress in general, not just at times of stress. Self-care involves practicing a healthy sleep routine (7-9 hours of sleep each night) and eating regular balanced meals throughout the day. It is all too easy to put basic self-care needs on the back burner, but it is one of the most important habits to maintain. Self-care can include creating time and space for hobbies and interests that bring you joy. Regular, effective self-care will help you be more in control of your nervous system and better prepared for times of stress and pressure.
During times of pressure, everything feels urgent. Control this compulsion by giving your mind and body small and frequent breaks. During times of stress, our bodies are on high alert, with adrenal running higher than normal, and our startle reflex (flight, fight, freeze) triggered for extended periods. This can cause burnout. You will have less energy and clarity to complete a task or remove yourself from a high-pressure situation. Setting a timer can be helpful in reminding you to take breaks. These can be as simple as taking deep breaths, going for short walks, or talking to a friend or family member. The objective of taking a break is to separate yourself from the stressor. That separation allows you to gather your thoughts, and regulate your mind and nervous system so that you can work/function at optimal levels.
Reaching Out for Support
Whether you’re under pressure from work, school, sports performance, or life transitions, there are very few situations that require you to stand alone. Reaching out to a colleague, classmate, family/friend, or team member, can help alleviate your stress and pressure. If you feel reluctant to do this you should evaluate your situation, and ask yourself why. It may be pride and ego, but remember, your support system is there for a reason…to support you. At this point, you should practice some mindfulness, recognize what you have control over in the current situation, and from there take it one step at a time. Life will bring its stressful moments but we can control them rather than letting them control us.
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My therapeutic style is compassionate, non-judgmental, and provides a safe and open space so that you may express yourself freely. I work with adults of all ages who are struggling with anxiety, stress, depression, career issues, life transitions, interpersonal issues, low self-esteem, couples’ issues, grief, and cultural and identity concerns. Together, we can work towards improving your quality of life as we identify and process the areas of your life that are causing you pain or discomfort. Then, we will work on developing and utilizing new skills to create a positive future for you.