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Managing Pressure

Welcome to the Christmas Hot Tip from Black Swan Training Solutions, where we are going to look at ways to manage the pressure we all feel from time-to-time.

Yes, Christmas is only a few weeks away, and while lots of people love this time of year it can also be 'too much' for some of us who feel the pressure of balancing work and home life whilst keeping everyone happy. You can almost feel the tension rising as your days fill up with school concerts, gift-buying and supermarket shopping. This of course, is all in addition to your normal workload! Many of us will also attend 'the office party', an experience that some enjoy more than others!

All of us are hit by stress at some point in our lives but in different ways and for different reasons. We all know that it's hard to switch off when you go to work if things are wrong at home and of course, it's hard to forget about work when you get home too.

First of all, you need to understand the difference between pressure and stress: -

Well, it all starts with pressure - or too much of it. That feeling you get when everything's too much is stress. It's what you feel when you just can't cope.

Pressure, on the other hand is something we should be able to cope with. No one expects to go to work and not meet any pressure. A certain amount of pressure actually helps us to work at our best. We want to be challenged but too much pressure is not healthy and it leads to stress.

We all face pressure, it's how we cope that matters.

Here are a few steps to consider: -

Recognise where your pressure comes from

Work pressures can include unrealistic deadlines, conflicting demands from line managers, insufficient staff, change, lack of appreciation. Added to these are personal and domestic issues.

Being able to understand where your pressure comes from means that you can start to do something about it.

Don't waste time and emotional energy on 'what if scenarios'

Make a list of your concerns and decide if there's something you can do about them - if you can, then get on with it! If you can't, ditch them. Prioritise - concentrate on what makes really makes a difference. Get rid of unnecessary tasks. Get organised, plan ahead and delegate responsibility.

Ditch unreal expectations

Often at this time of year we feel we need to make everything perfect, something we can't possibly achieve.

Take control and take action - make some realistic choices about what you want.

Check this out with the people around you and agree on the approach that everyone accepts. Review workload and objectives. If something is beyond your control - cross it off your list!

Focus on the highs

Remember you have a choice about whether you approach things positively or negatively. Focus on the high points and feel good about your role. This will impact on those around you.

Celebrate achievements and enjoy success. Take time each night to think about the good things that have happened that day and avoid dwelling on the negatives.

Concentrate on people's good points, appreciate the people around you and maximise their strengths.

Turn the situation round and see the funny side. Laughter relaxes tense muscles and boosts our body's feel good chemicals.

Prioritise some downtime

If you feel the pressure rising, take some time away from the situation and other people to clear your mind and refresh your body. Don't dwell on what's happened but give yourself some time to breathe deeply and stretch your body. If you can plan some time out into your schedule, then do it. If not, grab moments whenever you can.

One exercise is to link your fingers, with your palms outwards and reach forward with your arms at shoulder level, pushing your hands away from you. Hold for a count of ten and then repeat five times.

Focus on controlling your breathing by breathing in slowly and deeply through your nose and letting your abdomen expand as much as possible. Hold your breath for a few seconds before breathing out.

Correct breathing helps boost energy and allows you to think more clearly as well as relieving tension.

Do something you enjoy

Exercise helps. It isn't just about controlling weight; it also triggers the release of feel good endorphins.

Chose something realistic and manageable. Alternatively, a hobby or reading will provide a break from the pressure. Once you've hit on the right activity for you, stick to it and make yourself do it when you feel wound up.

We've looked at some ways to help you to manage your pressure, but take moment, also, to think about the pressure you put others under? How well do you know the individuals in your team? Consider what's happening in their lives too.

Remember, everyone has to have some sort of pressure to enable them to work to their best. It's no good being bored or under challenged but too much pressure can effect your work and personal life.

It's all about finding the right balance.

Enjoy the festive season and have a very happy Christmas!

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