How can I deal with pressure

How can I deal with the pressure to perform?

Perhaps you know the saying: "Diamonds are made under pressure." This means that we can achieve extraordinary things when we are under pressure. But is pressure to perform really necessary, for example to do a good job? How does pressure to perform arise at all, in which areas of our life do we experience it and how can we better deal with pressure to perform?

Where does the pressure to perform come from?

You may be familiar with situations like this: You have to complete an important project because your supervisor has set you a deadline for it, or you have a deadline at the university. Many people experience situations like this under pressure to perform. But for now there is only the project and the deadline.

Pressure to perform only arises - or does not arise - through our own thoughts.

Most of the time, they are fears of what happens if we don't manage to do it on time or not well enough, what our colleagues, fellow students, superiors or our professor might think of us. Perhaps we are also afraid of the possible consequences or we worry about what failure could do to our self-worth, for example by thinking, "Then I have failed."

In which areas do we experience pressure to perform?

When it comes to pressure to perform, many people probably first think of training, studies or the job. But the family, the partnership, friendships or even leisure activities can also awaken the feeling of pressure to perform in us.

For example, parents often feel the pressure to be a “good mother” or a “good father”. In the same way, we can stress ourselves out to be a good friend, for example by not canceling appointments and always wanting to answer calls and messages immediately. In the social media area, too, many people experience pressure to perform: "I have to post something every day so as not to lose followers!" That all sounds incredibly exhausting.

So how can we better deal with the pressure?

The following 3 steps can help you:

1Check your thoughts

Perhaps it is difficult to understand at first that it is our own thoughts that trigger pressure to perform in us and not our fellow human beings or the circumstances. Our friend may always be offended if we don't call him back the same day, or our manager threatens to be dismissed if we don't meet the deadline. How is that supposed to leave us cold? Of course that puts us under pressure!

But you probably also know people who react differently to these situations: They may quit themselves because it is too much stress for them or think about an offended friend that being offended is their problem. These are extreme examples and you may not want to react that way at all.

The point is, however, there are different ways of thinking about certain situations.

Therefore it can be very helpful to check your thoughts in situations in which you feel pressure to perform: Are you afraid of possible consequences? Do you think you are responsible for other people's feelings? Do you want to look good in front of others? Or does your own perfectionism make you doubt yourself?

Inviting new thoughts - that sounds a bit strange at first. Most of the time, however, we have very typical thought patterns and unconsciously like to cling to them: If we are particularly dutiful, then duties are something important, there is nothing we can do about it.

But try to open yourself up a bit by asking yourself: How could I still think about it? How could I see the situations differently? How would another person, maybe someone I like or admire, mentally deal with this?

With this you invite new thoughts and different perspectives to make yourself comfortable in your head. These new thoughts will make you feel different over time. So do some research into which thoughts feel good about you when it comes to pressure to perform. For example:

"If I don't do it (in time), the world won't end."

"Although I haven't finished, I do it thoroughly and calmly."

"I have no idea what the others really think of me."

"There are more important things in life."

"I am not responsible for my partner's feelings."

"I am enough and do my best."

You may also be familiar with the following situation: Other people don't think it's bad that you haven't done something, for example the deadline for a project can be postponed, but you still feel under pressure. The main thing here is that you make your self-worth dependent on your performance. Perhaps that is why you find it generally difficult to be “inactive”, to rest and not to receive recognition from others, for example for a completed project. When you know this, you feel like many people and you may feel like you are in a hamster wheel. How do you get out of there The key is: self-love. To love you just as you are, without having to do anything.


The loving hand

A nice exercise in self-love is to think about a person from whom you have experienced that love. This could be a parent, another relative, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a pet: your dog doesn't care about any project deadline, he always wags his tail when he sees you.

Then place a hand on your heart space and imagine this love flowing into you through your hand. There are no limits to your imagination. Feel unconditional love for about five minutes. You might want to set the timer on your cell phone for this.

For example, you can do this exercise in the morning before work, and over time you may notice how you become more forgiving and loving in the face of pressures to perform.

Short-term and long-term pressure to perform

But doesn't it sometimes take a little pressure to perform in order to be able to cope with something quickly and well? Is there nothing in the saying that diamonds are made under pressure?

On the one hand, it is a question of type, and on the other hand, a question of the duration of the pressure to perform. There are people who can work well under pressure and therefore sometimes even wait until a certain pressure builds up in order to “get started”. These people do not suffer from pressure to perform, they use it for themselves and take it into account in their time management. But even people who do not specifically use pressure to perform, but have to finish something at short notice, can do good, perhaps even better, work under tension.

However, if the pressure to perform persists, i.e. chronic stress spreads, not only our performance but also our mental health can suffer. There are various ways of recognizing, reducing or even preventing stress. If you feel addressed, you might be interested in our online training Fit in Stress.

Categories StressTags work, chronic stress, pressure, expectations, stressful moment, time management