Work pressure starts the minute you walk in the door on your first day. Meeting a bunch of new people and learning new procedures all at once is highly stressful; and you haven’t even begun performing your job duties yet. Once you do, you know you’re being evaluated for how well you “work under pressure” as management jargon calls it.
When you feel the pressure heating up, these techniques can help you keep your cool.
1. Adjust your attitude.
It’s automatic for human beings to see pressure as a threat to our wellbeing. In the workplace, though, you’re not really in danger. So that fearful viewpoint is as counterproductive as the pressure itself.
Highly successful people flip pressure into an opportunity to conquer a challenge, growing stronger and more experienced in the process. When you’re faced with learning a new skill quickly or meeting an impossible deadline, think about how it will help qualify you for a more responsible, rewarding position.
2. Stay in the present.
Worrying about the ultimate success or failure of the process can be overwhelming — and paralyzing. Instead, block all future possibilities out of your mind.
When star athletes are asked if they’re thinking about winning the championship, they always say no, they are focused only on the next game or competitor. You can use this same “one-step-at-a-time” mentality to minimize your own stressful situations.
3. Give yourself positive reinforcement.
Remind yourself that you’ve handled tough situations in the past and you know you can do it again.
If you can’t think of any similar pressures you’ve handled before, then “fake it till you make it,” as the saying goes. Amazingly, acting as if you are calm, competent and in control will become the reality — not just for outside observers but for yourself as well.
4. Visualize the worst case scenario.
Sometimes it’s the fear of the unknown that really stresses you out. So what’s the worst that could happen if you fail? Make a plan for dealing with it, and you’ll be better able to manage your anxiety and stay on track.
Step back and take a good look at this terrible thing that might happen. Is it really the end of the world? Keeping the situation in perspective will also help reduce your stress.
5. Take a deep breath.
When people are in panic mode, they tend to start rushing and stop thinking clearly. This leads to mistakes and makes the situation even worse.
Take a minute to empty your mind and just breathe. This breaks the vicious cycle of anxious, useless thoughts (“What am I doing?” “What should I do?” “What is the boss thinking?”), and allows your brain to problem-solve objectively, flexibly and creatively.
6. Ask for help.
On the job, you’re surrounded by people who’ve felt the exact same stresses you’re feeling now. Whether it’s your team peers, supervisor or coach, they can share some great tips on handling the learning curves and relieving anxiety.
Remember, you all have the same goal: to make the team a success so that you can advance your career goals. Helping you will bring rewards for them, too.