1. Take a Deep Breath
One of the first things to do when you feel overwhelmed under pressure is to take a few deep breaths while consciously relaxing your shoulders and jaw. Although this method seems very simple, it is one of the most effective ways to de-stress. By breathing deeply through your nose and out your mouth, the brain sends messages to your body that:
- Decrease heart rate
- Slow breathing
- Decreases blood pressure
As you breathe deeply and your nervous system flushes out cortisol and other stress hormones, you will gradually begin to feel less stressed.
2. Ground Yourself in the Present Moment
When we feel under pressure, we may become engrossed with worries about the future or become preoccupied with painful and intrusive memories from the past. However, these negative feelings belong to events that have already happened or will likely never happen. To de-stress from these pessimistic thoughts, you need to ground yourself in the present moment. The best way to do so is to focus on your five senses:
- Look at the objects around you
- Breathe in familiar smells
- Listen to the noises around you
- Eat or drink something comforting
- Feel your feet against the floor
When you are focused on what is right in front of you, you are no longer barraged with fears of the future or afflicted with anxiety from the past. This technique can allow you to de-stress by controlling what you can control in the present moment.
3. Reframe Your Thinking
As you begin to feel overwhelmed with stress, panic may start to set in. Your palms may be sweaty, your heart may be racing, and you may feel charged with nervous energy. These symptoms are often negatively associated with stress, but these signs are also similar to when you feel very excited.
When you feel stressed, try telling yourself that these emotions are actually excitement. Instead of telling yourself that you’re stressed, think to yourself, “I’m excited. I’m excited. I’m excited.”
Research has found that when participants channeled their nervous and anxious feelings into excitement, they performed better than those who perceived those feelings as stress. Your perspective determines how you handle a high-pressure situation, and by viewing your heightened attention and pumping adrenaline as beneficial, you can become more productive.
4. Make a List
When in a high-pressure situation, it can be easy to get distracted by the multitude of tasks you need to complete. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, make a to-do list that prioritizes your most important responsibilities. Writing down a list can focus your mind on the present moment and allow you to clearly see what tasks need your attention right away.
5. Break Up Your Tasks
Now that you have written down what you need to get done in a list, do the tasks look too large and daunting? Simply break up your massive tasks into smaller ones. For example, instead of putting “write a research paper” on your list, try breaking up this task into steps like:
- Select a research topic
- Find three credible sources
- Write a thesis
- Make an outline
Now, you have four simple steps that are much more manageable to achieve, allowing you to feel less stressed as you get closer to your goals.
Contact Mile High Psychiatry
At Mile High Psychiatry, we understand how difficult it can be to live in a time where pressure is present in so many facets of our lives. That is why our providers are here to offer evaluations and treatments for a range of mental health conditions, including finding ways to de-stress under pressure. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you take control of your mental health.