How can I deal with work pressure? | Alessio Bianchi
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How to deal with work pressure

You can reduce or manage work pressure with some simple steps that will reduce your stress and anxiety. The key is to become more aware of the problems you face in the workplace and to have a plan to tackle them.

Take work pressure seriously

When you experience stress your body reacts by secreting hormones like cortisol as part of the fight-or-flight reflex. This was a survival trait for early humans, who lived in a world full of predators, but it has some nasty side effects.

Research has found that repeated release of cortisol makes it more likely you will suffer from a range of illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease. So, work pressure can be a problem as serious to your long-term health as a poor diet or lack of exercise.

Treating it as a real health problem will empower you to do something about it.

Track the causes of pressure

If you are feeling pressure at work, the first thing you should do is seek to understand that pressure. Try keeping a journal for a week or two, recording what you do and how you feel.

A journal like this can reveal flashpoints, like your relationship with a specific colleague or the way you feel when working on a particular project. It can also show patterns of behaviour, such as feeling more stressed at the start or end of the week.

The journal is unlikely to reduce the pressure, but it gives you information and will help you to build strategies for coping.

Learn to relax and recharge to release anxiety

If you are worried about work stress, a key step is to explore ways of relaxing. Pressure at work becomes even more damaging if you can’t escape it when you leave. This can have a huge impact on your mental health, as well as damaging personal relationships.

Relaxing when you feel under pressure isn’t always easy, but you can make use of techniques which give your mind a new focus, including guided imagery, breath focus and body scanning. These exercises can help you to break the thought patterns created by the pressure of work.

More physical approaches may also help you, including yoga or tai chi. These ancient practices combine physical and mental work, and they’ve been working for thousands of years.

Develop problem solving to tackle work pressure systematically

You may find it hard to work effectively under pressure because you simply can’t cope with how much work you have to do. You feel overwhelmed and can’t process everything.

By using an active coping strategy like problem solving you can learn how to approach this challenge by breaking tasks down using specific steps.

You can find a vast range of slightly different approaches to problem solving, but they usually involve a few simple phases. First, stop and think about the task so you understand it as much as possible, then break it into smaller tasks that are more manageable, before setting out a plan for how you will do each of these tasks.

Live more mindfully to limit the impact of work pressure

Mindfulness is not a cure-all for every problem you face, but it is a system of thought and practice that can help you to cope with work pressure.

It is a central element of Stoicism, which is famously popular with people whose lives involve plenty of pressure, including soldiers, politicians, athletes and business leaders.

The beauty of mindfulness in general, and within Stoicism in particular, is that it empowers you. Specifically, it teaches that things like co-workers and impossible schedules are external objects which do not have access to your mind. Your emotional reactions come from inside you, so you can address those directly.

You experience these emotional reactions when under pressure and when dealing with criticism. Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for handling these pressures by enabling you to practice understanding and managing these emotions.

Work pressure is a serious problem with potentially deadly consequences, so approach it as a challenge worthy of your energy and commitment.