Pressure doesn’t have to be stressful

How many times have you said to yourself that you are under pressure and feeling stressed?

There is a tendancy to link pressure to stress however one doesn’t necessarily have to lead to the other. Make the distinction between the 2. (…)

It is important to recognise the difference between pressure and stress. Pressure, under the right circumstances can enable us to work quicker & more efficiently to meet a deadline or to step up to take responsibility, whereas stress is a destructive force that is counter-productive, leading to a lack of motivation and procrastination.

Pressure drives efficiency and effectiveness; stress can make us feel anxious, overwhelmed and loss of control of our rationale thoughts.

Pressure is a positive aspect of life and work for most people. Many of us need to have standards, targets and deadlines to push us towards good performance. It helps you to keep focused, and it can make you competitive and encourage action. Whenever I have to give a presentation or attend an important meeting, I have usually found that a sense of anxiety and a rush of adrenaline helps me to be at my best. That’s good pressure.

I might have to work hard, take some risks, challenge myself, change or accept new things – but it is manageable. I feel a level of control over the situation.

Stress, on the other hand, occurs when I no longer feel in control. That what is being demanded of me is not manageable no matter how organised, effective or efficient I believe I am. However I am in control of how I react and manage my emotions in a stressful situation

A certain level of stress can be a positive thing. However, dealing with the negative impact of stress is vitally important to us all, especially if we are leading a team of people. Stress and pressure is relative. We all feel it, but we react to and cope with it in different ways.

Here are 5 actions that have worked well for me to prevent pressure becoming stressful –

1.   Keep things in perspective –no matter how bad the circumstances or how big the challenge. Take comfort – you are not alone and you are most probably dealing with the situation much better than you think you are.

2.   Stay fit and healthy – exercise and good nutrition are crucial. Exercise helps to keep emotions under control and allows you time and space to switch off. Good nutrition fuels your body and brain to work at their best.

3.   Open up and offload – stress can worsen when you hold on to too much inside. Open up to someone you can trust who can provide an understanding ear.

4.   Work/life balance – get the balance that works for you. Take time away from the business to recharge your batteries. Continuously working long hours without a break won’t make you more productive. In fact, I believe it can jeopardise your performance.

5.   Be organised and realistic – don’t leave things to the last minute. Be prepared and prioritise the things that matter rather than setting yourself deadlines and expectations that are difficult to achieve.

David Guile is an Executive Leadership Coach. Having worked his way up through all the managerial levels within the hospitality industry to CEO, he combines hard-won experience with a robust coaching methodology to provide insights, support and direction to help managers and emerging leaders find, own and work their potential and the potential of others.

#1Amazon bestseller & CMI Manangement Gold book, Potential & online course – just launched