Rob Yorke
Rob Yorke
Group Development Director

Positivity Under Pressure

We all know that work and life can get hectic, with pressures from both inside and outside business. Technology, for example, is great, but at the same time can push our stress button when it stops working, or when constant connectivity leads to a constant flow of emails. In short, problems will hit like sparks from a fire, and the trick is not to burst into flames but to snuff them out.

Most of us recognise that the way we feel has a significant impact on our ability to focus and keep things moving. Staying calm and positive will help you to avoid the negative effects of pressure, and puts you in a stronger position when communicating your thoughts to colleagues and clients. You’ll probably also make much better decisions.

Now I can hear you thinking ‘here we go another set of meaningless cliché sayings’, I’ve been there myself, which is why I prefer practical advice, given in plain English.

So here goes, a few of my best tips:

  1. Take your own advice
    We’re all great at handing out advice to others when we think they need it. Take a minute to step back and think, go for a walk, get someone to help, don’t worry it will all still be there tomorrow. The problem is we don’t actually do these things ourselves. Imagine talking to yourself in the third person observing your reactions – what should they (You!) do to improve the situation.
  2. Positive behaviour – even when you don’t feel it
    This is hard work and is likely to feel pointless at first but the point is that over time you will actually feel better. It helps if there are others around you too. When my kids were babies and wouldn’t sleep, I’d be at my wits end with work pressure, and deprived of life giving sleep, but if I could brace myself and act upbeat they would pick-up on this and I’d get the result I was after far quicker.
  3. Read positive books to inspire your mood
    There are loads of really great books out there on positive thinking and stress avoidance. Try to take out a few tricks from each book you read to try out from time to time. Try Tony Robbins (for energy, planning and positivity), Wayne Dyer (for a calm mental state) or just search and look for recommendations.
  4. Recognise the moments when your feel the pressure rising and stop
    When a high-pressure situation lands on you, and you start to feel the anxiety rising you need to recognise what’s happening and stop!  Stop reacting and start thinking and planning. Break down the situation into
    a) what is stopping me getting what I want
    b) what is really important and what can wait
    c) what can I do to get this back on track?
  5. Don’t allow others to dump their uncontrolled stress onto you
    There are times when a friend or colleague will start to offload a pile of anxieties onto you in a random order. This mental list of stress is not constructive – it’s just a brain dump. Don’t take these on, and don’t get pulled into their world. Try to help them with calming language, positive messages and help them to prioritise. This is not meant to sound patronising or unsympathetic and should come across as constructive and supportive. Get this right and you’ll both feel better immediately!
  6. Take a moment to quieten your mind – Visualisation
    Ok this sounds dangerously like meditation (something I’ve never managed to do!) but in plain English what I mean is clear your head of stressful clutter. This is particularly useful if you can’t sleep and thoughts are buzzing around in your head. Here’s a little trick I’ve used over the years.
    Imagine you’re in a dark, quiet and still room holding a candle. You stare at the flame which is still. Every time a thought enters your head the flame flutters as though the thought is a breeze. Focus on keeping the thoughts out and the flame steady. Given time you’ll feel the stressful thoughts leave.
  7. Talk positive, be positive, and try to become known as positive
    I know I’m inviting people I know to comment here as I’ve had bad days and let situations get the better of me. My colleagues have seen these, but hopefully they are few and far between. Over time as with my other suggestions, practising this becomes easier and more natural and you simply become a more positive person.
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