5 tips for performing well under pressure

pressure

It goes without saying that in today’s working world we are all under pressure. This is a non-varying characteristic of modern corporations. Forward-thinking companies do care for their employees’ well-being, but it’s also important for employees to know how to handle pressure in order to not sacrifice mental health or work performance. Here are 5 great tips for performing well under pressure.

1) Remember that human beings can perform well under pressure.

We are survivalists, we love a challenge and we like to accomplish difficult tasks that keep us going. If you find yourself working in a pressurised environment it’s highly likley that you are one of the people that succeed rather than fail under pressure.

So, don’t view pressure as a negative, but rather embrace it and see it as an opportunity. You should always pay attention to the nature of the pressure you are under. If you decide the pressure is unnecessary, you should see how you can circumvent the pressure and deal with any associated tasks, in different, more balanced manner.

2) Don’t be a yes person 

A common cause of feeling pressure at work is by taking on more work than you can handle. Only accept work if you genuinely feel you have the capacity. If you know that a task can be done, then take it on. If you think it can’t be done, then you need to resolve the situation (i.e ask for help or delegate) and figure out a way that it can be done without sacrificing your work standard or mental health.

3) Plan ahead and ask yourself, “What if?”

Having a recovery plan or two in mind for if the pressure gets too much, can really help to relax your mind when working up against strict deadlines. Think of alternatives; even if you don’t need them, they will help you to handle pressure well, and you will be ready for the unforeseen, instead of helplessly panicking along the way which only serves to slow down your productivity.

4) Maintain self-control over yourself.

Your reactions to different challenges are part of the learning process, and it is sometimes necessary to take a step back when up against a challenge and asses how you react. Make sure you are in control over your emotions and you are not being overly negative in the work place or at home. If you feel unable to control your emotions then it’s a sign that the pressure is getting to you. In this scenario, it would be a good idea to take a step back or seek appropriate wellbeing help. If you feel you can, speaking to a superior about how your work environment is affecting you, could be beneficial if both of you draw up solutions to combat how you feel.

5) The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

The way that you deal with pressure at work will enable you to deal with the pressure in personal situations. If you can master pressure in one area of your life, you will learn to rise above challenges and grow in every area of your life. Eventually, those times will be a great source of pride.

Life comes with many hurdles and the better you handle these situations the higher your quality of life will be.

This blog was written with the help of Randa Hakim’s useful blog on workplace pressure here

 

 

How to stay naturally energised during your work day

energised

Your working day is a marathon, not a sprint. After a hectic weekend, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things. However, luckily there are a few techniques that allow you to stay alert, regardless of how little sleep you’ve had. Here are four of the best expert-recommended ways to stay naturally energised during your working day.

1. Non-caffeinated energisers

Luckily for those of you who don’t want to rely on caffeine for energy, there are some great alternatives to stay energised. Many experts recommend exercising first thing in the morning so you get an adrenaline boost for the rest of the day. Exercise helps to keep you alert and also keeps your endorphins up – so that no matter how tired you may be – you will feel positive and upbeat. However, if exercising first thing in the morning isn’t for you, than simply taking a walk in fresh air (rain or shine) can significantly increase your level of alertness. Try to do this throughout the day, especially if you feel your eyelids getting heavy at your desk.

2.  Try the R.I.S.E U.P. method

Dr. Harvey of the Golden Bear Sleep Research Center recommends what’s called the R.I.S.E. U.P. method to her patients who suffer from severe sleep inertia and need a concrete process to feel energised. R.I.S.E. U.P. stands for:

Refrain from snoozing
Increase activity for the first hour
Shower or wash face
Expose yourself to sunlight
Upbeat music
Phone a friend

3. Be mindful of what you eat

If you particularly tired, refrain from eating anything heavy, too hot or starchy. These foods will simply make you feel less energised and lethargic. Instead switch to light foods such as Greek yogurt, fruit, smoothies, salads, and lean protein. Bananas and nuts are a great snack to help keep your energy up throughout the day. Another great trick is to have strong spearmint gum with you – as chewing this helps to keep you alert.

4. Take a 10-minute nap

Studies show that the perfect amount of time for a nap, during the working day, is 10 minutes. Anything more than this and you risk being more tired. The perfect 10-minute nap involves sleeping slightly upright so that you don’t fall into a deep sleep and spring back into action. Those that do nap at work tend to do it in a conference room, a couch or their car!

5. Listen to your favorite upbeat song

Turn on your favorite song, that gets you moving. Listen to it using headphones at work and feel all of the happy endorphins run through your body, giving you all the energy you need, to tackle the next task.

 

How to gently push back at work and encourage a work-life-balance

work-life-balance

Work doesn’t have to be a battlefield. We live in a collaborative, forward-thinking society where employees and employers can be happy. It’s possible to get our work done and also have a happy home life. We just need to put the right work relationships in place, with our superiors, to enjoy the work-life-balance possibilities. Work can be a win/win for everyone and here are 4 proven ways on how to gently push back at work and set the tone for a healthy work-life-balance;

1. Clearly, understand the criteria on which you are judged

Are you marked on output or hours logged? The later causes problems for flexible work and may also disadvantage your employer. Encourage open discussions about how you are expected to work and be crystal clear on these points. This obviously helps you to impress your employer but also to open meaningful discussions about how different work practices could provide a win/win for you and your organization. It’s typically much more beneficial for employers and employees if work is judged by output as opposed to hours logged.

2. Create a goals/objectives document

If this document hasn’t been created by your boss, then use your initiative and create it yourself. Set up a meeting with your manager and use the information to create a document clearly outlining employer expectations. This is a document where you’ll list and then track the progress of all your projects, initiatives and key tasks. You’ll use this document during progress review meetings with your manager. It’s a crystal clear benchmark to asses your progress and can help you to make huge leaps of progress in your career. If you meet all of your objectives then it’s much easier for you to negotiate a more flexible working style.

3. Embody your superiors communication style

Establish a positive working relationship by learning about your superiors communication style and preferred method of working and communicating with you. How do they like to receive updates? Do they want weekly, bi-weekly or monthly updates? Once you have the perfect mode of communication than your working relationship is built for success.

4. Schedule progress meetings

If this isn’t already in place work, with your superior to schedule regular review meetings on both your calendars (based on how often your boss prefers to meet). Schedule them on a repeating basis, at least six months into the future. During these meetings, come prepared with an updated Goals and Objectives document and be ready to discuss your progress on each item. During these meetings you might like to request different working times/ flexible work policies – it’s a good idea to discuss how these policies would be a win/win for both you and your employer.

Nature could be the key to your stress reduction

stress

We all fall foul to stress. It can hit us at any time and it can really dominate our thoughts for the rest of the day, week or even month. Stress is an indication that you are over-doing it, or that you are overwhelmed by aspects of your life. In today’s fast-paced world, sometimes exhausting hard work, is unavoidable, especially if you’re the ambitious type. However, there is one very interesting and scientifically proven way to help reduce your stress, permanently. It’s called forest bathing or also known as shinrin-yoku, in Japan where it is a very popular method to reduce the stress of urbanized city workers.

Forest bathing for stress – what the science says

A University of Rochester study found that just by simply looking at natural landscapes (as opposed to man-made environments) we feel more generous, connected to others, and in tune with our inner selves.

However when we actually immerse ourselves in a forest, (Japanese studies recommend a 2-hour walk, per week, to see a reduction in stress) the benefits are so much higher. Here’s why:

1. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol (making us less stressed)

Since 2004, the Japanese government has invested some three million euros in scientific research on the therapeutic effects of forests, particularly for stress reduction. Researchers, at the University of Chiba, measured the concentration of cortisol (a stress hormone) in individuals exposed to a forest environment in comparison to those who had remained in an office environment. The researchers found there was remarkably less cortisol in those exposed to the forest environment.

2. It increases our pleasure and empathy towards others

With advanced neurobiology techniques, the scientists were further able to confirm that walking or simply just being in a forest decreases the activity of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where cognitive functions focus on activities such as, planning, solving problems and making decisions. Instead, activity shifts to other parts of the brain related to emotion, pleasure, and empathy.

3. It builds our immune system

The immunologist Qing Li, from the Tokyo School of Medicine, has shown that a walk in a forest or a park significantly increases the concentration of a type of white blood cell that contributes to the fight against infections and against cancer. The beneficial effect of the walk of the forest can increase the white blood cells and anti-cancer proteins for up to to a week. According to Li, the volatile compounds emitted by trees are mainly responsible for this beneficial effect on the immune system. This is because plants produce something called “phytoncides”, which have been found, for centuries, to boost the human immune system and are still used and sold in popular homeopathic medicines, today.

Why you should use nature in your life for stress reduction

I heard a very inspiring quote yesterday, by Chris Pratt, a Hollywood actor, “I’m sharing this video….to entice any of you watching this who may feel unease or anxiety with the state of our world. Just breathe, slow down, go outside, find something not man-made and give it a good look“. Whilst I am not one to usually support Hollywood press, or advocate using it to find self-development meaning, this quote showed me that nature is a tool open to absolutely everyone. From the stressed-out single parent, trying to make it work in a demanding career, to Hollywood billionaires. It’s right outside our homes, free and can be found within a few hours of your urbanized city. There really is no excuse to not utilize this tool, to aid with the reduction of your stress.

Read more about the Japanese science of forest bathing here.

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