Keeping Your Cool Under Pressure – 10 Tips

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The human tendency to perform poorly under pressure results in a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies — you’re worried you are going to mess up, and you end up messing up only because you were so concerned. If you can master the art of keeping your cool, though you will find you can be much more successful when it really counts. Here are 10 actionable ways to do just that.

RELATED: 7 Easy Ways to Get Better at Strategic Thinking

Keeping Your Cool In The Moment

1. Take a Breath

Humans have evolved a “fight or flight” body mechanism that takes over when they are put in extremely stressful situations.

Part of the response entails draining oxygen from the lungs and the bloodstream. Taking a few deep breaths negates this reaction. When taking the breaths, breathe in through your nose and make sure the breath goes all the way into your stomach. This means your hand should actually be pushed outwards if you place it over your belly button.

Another part of the fight or flight response is that the brain secretes stress hormones that make it hard to think clearly. But taking deep breaths to return oxygen to your body acts as a signal to your brain that everything is alright, and it can stop releasing the hormones.

2. Label Your Emotions

Labeling your emotions may feel silly, but science shows that it’s actually a very effective way of managing stress.

Neuroscientist Jon Pratlett says that “Reflecting on your feelings and labeling them may assist in calming the amygdalae, allowing you to move out of the fight or flight mode and free up energy, allowing us to think more clearly about the issue at hand rather than worrying.”

In other words, once you take stock of all the emotions, it’s easier to examine them rationally.

To achieve an even greater calming effect, you can re-label to emotions. For example, begin thinking of “confusion” as “curiosity” or “fear” as “anticipation.”

3. Imagine Long-term Effects Of Your Options

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When you are faced with a decision that’s stressing you out, a great way of keeping your cool is by visualizing where each option will lead. Weeks or months down the road, will your world really be so different depending on what you pick? The majority of the time, the answer will be no. If that’s the case, the decision won’t seem like nearly such a big deal.

The majority of the time, stressful decisions have a way of seeming more important than they actually are. If you can gain some perspective and show yourself that you are inflating the importance of the decision in your mind, it will suddenly become much less stressful.

4. Go For A Hike

If you have time, get outside and go for a walk in nature. The microscopic particles found in the air in wilderness settings are scientifically proven to help with decision-making processes and provide naturally calming effects. Exercise like that provided by hiking is shown to do the same thing.

Besides, spending some time alone with no other humans around is a great way to think about any problems at hand.

5. Don't Overthink

When faced with a decision, make a shortlist of the criteria you need to consider and stick to it. Most people let their list of considerations grow longer and longer the more they think about a problem, especially when they are under pressure to make the decision.

This overthinking process causes a ton of anxiety and should be avoided. So just remember that your gut decision is usually pretty accurate, and go from there. 

RELATED: How to Stop Overthinking — 9 Easiest Ways

6. Understand Nerves Don't Indicate Failure

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When you’re in the heat of the moment, you will likely display physical signs of stress, like sweaty palms, prickles on your neck, or flushed cheeks. These things are part of the natural fight or flight response.

Remember that these things don’t indicate you are losing control or heading towards failure. Instead, think of them as signs your body and mind are ready to give an excellent performance!

Make Keeping Your Cool Easier In The Future

7. Sleep Well

Lack of sleep is one of the top causes of stress. If you go to bed at a reasonable time and make sure you sleep for at least 7 hours each night, you’ll have a much easier time keeping your cool than if you’re constantly running on fumes.

Healthy sleep practices are essential, too. Stay away from blue light within 30 minutes of your head hitting the pillow. An oil diffuser and some soothing fragrances are also a good idea.

8. Meditate

Your home office design should suit your personality. It should make you feel welcomed, comfortable, and productive. So don’t be afraid to design it the way you want with your favorite colors and decorations! 

With the ideas in this article, you can now turn your home office into a more productive and comfortable place! There are no specific rules when it comes to your home office design, other than the rules you make for yourself. Listen to your mind, and don’t be afraid to mix up some ideas together to create a unique home office design.

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9. Consume Omega-3

Omega-3 is a chemical compound that stimulates the vagus nerve, which helps calm down the body. Omega-3 is found in fatty fish and nuts, or in tablet form.

10. Think Positively

It might sound unrelated to keeping your cool, but positive thoughts are actually another way to maintain the health of the vagus nerve we mentioned. Try keeping a journal of positive thoughts about the day as part of your before-bed routine.

Keeping your cool isn’t always easy, but it’s imperative if you are to make the most prudent decisions possible. Losing your cool demonstrates weakness and clouds your mind. Use these 10 tips to make sure it never happens again.



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