T oby Buckle, co-founder of the Healthy Leadership Project led a recent Brighton Chamber Bite-sized on stress at work
Pause for breath
When you’re under pressure it’s tempting to just dive into a task or discussion with whatever comes to mind first.
In her book ‘Choke’ Psychologist Sian Beilock says doing that is often a mistake and argues that it is better to pause to clear your mind, plan the task or assess an issue before trying to resolve it.
A brief pause resets your state and helps ensure you don’t overlook key details.
If you also focus on taking a couple of deep breaths it also helps your brain replenish its supply of oxygen and glucose to ensure peak performance.
When you are feeling ‘stressed’ don’t try to ‘calm down’. Because calm is physiologically the opposite to feeling anxious i.e. a slow pulse and relaxed muscles verses a fast pulse and tense muscles, it’s hard to go straight from one to the other.
Feeling anxious or exited are however very similar body responses and it has been proven it is possible to turn the negative state into a positive energy simply by reframing what you are feeling by changing the language.
Ask are you exited, challenged or learning?
Focus on what you can control and influence
Focus your thinking by following Stephen Coveys advise in the book ‘7 habits of highly effective people’. Think about what you are really able to control and influence in a situation and what is just a concern you can do nothing about.
Focus on the control and influence parts and how you can expand these.
Break your actions into small steps and figure out a priority for the actions you will take and as importantly decide which actions you won’t take.
Prepare for real
It can be good to rehearse a presentation or talk in your head, but make sure you are visualising it going well and not simply running a movie of it going badly over and over again.
If you want to really nail it and get used to performing under pressure however it is much better to practice in front of someone else with a timer on.
For more about the Heathy Leadership Project see www.brightonleaders.org.uk