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By Chris Tomkinson Founder at GoVida - The Employee Wellbeing Platform

Can you Handle Pressure?

Why do some people thrive in the spotlight and others freeze?

If you have ever watched a penalty shoot-out you will have noticed how pressure can make a relatively straight forward task of kicking a ball 12 yards in to a goal seem like the hardest thing imaginable.

When it goes wrong you see fear take over with the consequences of missing engulfing the player’s mind. In addition there is the effect of the collective consciousness and as Rudyard Kipling says:

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs”

This is a fascinating subject how an unseen collective energy/thought can be felt by those there and even those watching at home on television.

Inability to handle work pressure can stop you “thinking straight” and freezing or choking.

Are there any tools to help handle pressure?

1/ Visualisation

If you watch a Rugby goal-kicker or golfer they often have a set process/routine before striking the ball. Within this routine is a mental visualisation that they go through and that has been practised thousands of times where by the end result is their preferred outcome. This repeated focused practice allows them to go into a sub conscious flow and leaves them less vulnerable to the pressures mentioned above.

Chris Hoy, the British multiple Olympic Gold Medal winning cyclist was well known for the hours of mental preparation he would do visualising not just the race but even the time leading up to it and the aftermath. This technique can be applied to any event and is very useful for those that you feel pressured around whether it be a conversation with a customer, the boss or delivering a presentation.

2/ Keep a balanced perspective

Pressure is increased when the consequences of failure are amplified. Keep things in perspective and remember other than your health and family “nothing matters that much

I enjoyed watching the recent Tyson Fury fight and although Tyson has admitted to suffering with mental health issues and anxiety he has always performed at his best on the big stage. Being 6ft 9 and very talented is a huge advantage but when going in against these feared opponents he keeps a very balanced perspective. He uses lines when referring to the event itself such as “it’s just a boxing match where one guy wins and the other loses” This thinking and vocalised talk not only reduces the pressure he experiences but also his calmness and apparent confidence affects his opponents who question “Why is this guy so relaxed?

Keeping a balanced perspective dramatically helps reduce pressure and will allow you to perform at your best and increase the likelihood of the outcome you desire.

Some people have a natural inclination to handle pressure better than others but these two techniques significantly help in reducing stress and anxiety leading up to an event.

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