Body cramps, sweaty palms, tears, a heart-beat raging against a diaphragm clenched tight with an increasing tenseness: we’ve all been there. Many people can easily recognize these as common symptoms of physical and emotional responses to stressful situations. Whether it be work, studies, familial relationships, or a dozen other things, every human has encountered or will encounter circumstances that put pressure on their mind and body.
Knowing that it will happen regardless of our trying to stop it – we are only able to control one factor: how we choose to respond. Now more than ever, we have a society that needs to learn how to remain calm under pressure. Let’s look at how successful people have managed to do so.
They Separate Their Emotions from Reality
Often, the things that bring us to our knees do not have roots in the external world. In other words, the stress we feel is often there because we feed into it. How many times have you put extra pressure on yourself when your boss didn’t? Or push yourself to the point of breaking because you had to be “the best.”
In these situations, it is extremely important to separate emotions of perfectionism, doubt, and self-inflicted anxiety from the actual reality at hand. Successful people know how to analyze a moment or experience in the context of the real moment, not the one they have made up in their heads.
Of course, this is harder in specific experiences of shock, such as grief. However, especially in the working world, if you can be the master of your own emotions, you can be the master of anything.
Another way to combat stress is to adopt a mental mantra to repeat to yourself over the course of the day, such as “It is only a thought and a thought can be changed”.
They Train Their Minds
To overcome the fear and anxiety brought on by unwanted stressors, it is vital to train your mind. This can be done in a variety of ways and different people prefer different practices.
Some may use meditation to control their breathing and reframe their thoughts as consistent meditation can vitally improve how we respond to pressure- separating thoughts that are true from ones that are not helpful for our mental health. In a typical workday you may have many things that could be major causes of stress, but approaching the situation with a trained mindset makes all the difference.
For example, activities that elicit a large amount of adrenaline such as playing poker and rock climbing require the right approach to succeed. Mindset coach Elliot Roe says that both activities require similar things from the mind: training oneself to perform well even under extreme pressure and making a plan of how to do so.
The next time work seems suffocating, remember to utilize the things you’ve learned in your meditation practice or other training that has allowed you to see the moment for what it is and move on from it.
They Eat Well and Exercise
Body movement and a healthy diet, two fundamental pieces of the puzzle. It’s a fact: exercise releases hormones that make you happy and happiness reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and loads of other negative emotions in our physiology. While some may find it easier than others to exercise on a regular basis, a fast-paced walk around the block, yoga, or practicing a sport you love are all great and simple ways to get your body moving.
Remember: all movement is good movement. Also, make a habit of meal planning ahead of your busy schedule so you have healthy and hearty food to reach for when there’s no time to cook.
When you fill your body with healthy nutrients, you will naturally have more energy on a daily basis.
They are Thankful
Studies have shown that gratitude has benefits for our brain functioning. When we respond to situations with thankfulness instead of despair, neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine help to fight off anxiety and stress. While the things you are grateful for may be harder to remember in an anxiety-filled moment, many people like to keep “gratitude journals” where recorded points can be looked back on throughout the day.
Successful people can recognize that in any and every situation, there is always something to be thankful for. Counting your blessings as opposed to your burdens is one of many mental exercises that will result in long-term benefits in your work and social life.