5 Ways To Stay Cool And Calm Under High Pressure

Simple Things That Will Help if You’re Feeling Stressed

As we are living much busier lives now, we often find ourselves hurrying more, which generates high amounts of pressure or stress.

The pressure we experience trying to do the things we want can leave us feeling drained of energy and also cause us to behave in ways that are out of character. Being able to remain poised, calm and cool under high stress can be developed with consistent practice.

The calmer we’re able to remain when dealing with high pressure situations, the better we’ll be able to navigate through them by making intelligent decisions and still achieve the outcomes we want.

I remember hearing about the “Miracle on the Hudson” on January 15, 2009, when US Airways Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, glided his disabled plane onto the waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew onboard.

Had the Captain panicked and not remained calm while dealing with the kind of pressure most of us will never have to deal with, the outcome could have resulted in lives being lost in the plane and on land. The fact that the Captain had the calmness of mind to decide to land the plane in the Hudson River, rather than trying an emergency landing on land, is a testament to his presence, training and his experience.

While we may not deal with life and death situations when experiencing high levels of pressure, it helps to know what we can do to remain calm.

Ways to remain calm in stressful situations

5 Ways to Remain Cool and Calm Under High Pressure or Stress

  1. Deepen your breathing. We tend to breathe faster and have more shallow breaths when experiencing higher than normal levels of stress. In such situations, it’s critical to slow down our breathing by taking in longer, deep breaths. Sometimes closing our eyes, if we’re able to do so, can also help us stay calm and composed.
  2. Shift your focus by asking better questions. Instead of asking, “OMG, what am I going to do now?” a better question could be, “Based on what I’m able to control or influence, how will my best self handle or respond to this situation?” By shifting our focus to outcomes or solutions, we’re more likely to remain calm.
  3. Look for something positive. No matter how difficult, stressful or dire a situation may appear to be, if we’re willing to look for something positive, we’ll always find it. Examples may include better ways of doing something or better ways of communicating with someone. As the saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining.”
  4. Make light of the situation, if appropriate. We tend to get all worked up or stressed when we forget to lighten up and have fun. Instead of becoming tense or stressed, we can always choose to enjoy ourselves. Something that will help is to ask ourselves, “Will this matter in 12 months time or in three years time?” That can help us put things in better perspective.
  5. Condition yourself to be mentally strong. Those who are mentally strong tend to deal with pressure or stress differently to those who aren’t. Ways to become mentally stronger may include meditation, learning about ourselves and our behaviours, and taking care of ourselves physically. The better conditioned we are mentally, the faster we can make wise decisions at any given moment.

Most people don’t like being around those who are constantly stressed or unable to cope well with the pressures of life. We’ll be more useful if we remain cool and calm when facing high-pressure situations, and in turn, make better informed decisions in order to meet our objectives.

Action Step: Reflect on your last stressful or high-pressure situation and how you dealt with it. Based on what you know now, decide what you will do differently next time you face a similar situation.

Question: What is another way we can remain cool and calm under high pressure?

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