How to remain calm under pressure
How to remain calm under pressure

We all have moments that we look up to: giving a presentation, visiting the dentist, conducting a (job) interview, the deadline for handing in your reports, etc. There are times when the pressure can be too overwhelming and your heart is beating quickly, we have sweaty hands and the panic attacks. In this blog I discuss seven tips to help you remain calm during stressful moments.

What is stress?

The original meaning of the word stress refers to the external pressure that is performed on a person. This pressure results in tension. The body responds to stressful events with increased physiological activity in order to respond as adequately as possible. We therefore need stress to be able to perform. Stress becomes unhealthy when the duration of the external pressure takes too long. The body is unable to respond permanently to stress-inducing situations. The energy and reserves of the body become exhausted. As a result, (permanent) damage can be caused in the form of physical and psychological complaints or illnesses. That brings us to the question: “When do you experience stress for too long that is becomes unhealthy?’

Unhealthy stress

The level of stress and how long you can handle it is different for everyone. One person has no problem at all with giving presentations. Another person finds this overwhelming. You can best determine what level of stress is healthy for you because only you experience exactly what it does to you. Recognising and accepting stress is the first step towards dealing with stressful situations with greater ease. The following tips will help you further:

  1. Defeat moments of panic
    When we are in danger or face a difficult situation, our mind and body go into “fight or flight” mode. Neither is really suitable when we are about to give a presentation or have a job interview. The best way to beat panic moments is to use a relaxation reaction.
  2. Breathe slowly
    It makes so much sense, but breathing slowly is one of the most effective ways of creating a relaxation reaction. During the day we sometimes forget to breathe deeply because of stressful situations. The higher the breath (at the chest), the more stress the body has. The secret to good breathing is breathing deeply in the direction of the abdomen. By putting your hands on the stomach just before or during a stressful situation and breathing deeply and slowly in and out through the nose, immediately leads to stress reduction.
  3. Just move
    Another effective way to create a relaxation reaction is to move. That can be a short walk or do some simple stretching exercises. The body makes endorphins during exercise. These “happiness chemicals” ensure that you feel more relaxed and comfortable in your skin which then contributes to more energy and being less stress.
  4. Use the panic signals
    Having sweaty hands or a beating heart are no signs that you are going to fail! It is simply an indication that you are going to do something that you find exciting. When you realize this and see the side effects as someone who is ready to do something epic, you suddenly look at the situation differently. Telling yourself in the moment that this challenge is no big deal, makes the stress decrease to a healthy proportion.
  5. Pay no attention to negativity
    When you are preparing for a stressful event, it is crucial to focus on the positive things of this situation, such as the people, the environment, etc. Fearful, negative and cynical ‘vibes’ ensure that you do not experience a sense of control and that contributes to more instead of less stress.
  6. Practice makes perfect
    Regularly practicing your presentations or a conversation helps to reduce the stress level. The more you practice, the more natural it becomes which also means that you gain confidence. Through practicing regularly you know what your strengths are and how to use it during stressful moments. On the other hand, practicing for a dentist appointment is more difficult. In such situations visualising that the appointment goes well, will reduce stress complaints. Put your focus on the positive things!
  7. Take good care of yourself
    Some of us can’t eat when experiencing stress, others easily eat away bars of chocolate. Stressful situations are part of life and regularly occur out of the blue. The better you take care of your body, the easier you can deal with stressful situations. That means taking care of and paying attention to all the essential things such as good nutrition, sufficient sleep, exercising and enough relaxation.

“Quiet mind brings inner strength and confidence, that’s very important for good health.” -Dalai Lama

Yoga for stress relief

There are specific yoga exercises that reduce stress. Watch the video Yoga For Stress Relief and experience it yourself!

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Esther writes blogs for NiceDay and shars practical and interesting yoga tips and tricks that will truly benefit you. Her goal is to help you use practical yoga for a healthier and happier life. In 2018 Esther was the first yoga teacher that introduced online yoga classes in Europe. You can follow her classes online from any place or on any time you like. Want to know more? Have a look at her live online yoga studio:

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