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Live In A Pressure Cooker? Then Turn Down The Heat.

Live In A Pressure Cooker? Then Turn Down The Heat.
We all have our pressure moments but many people experience feelings of being under pressure every day. These people feel they live in a pressure cooker.
Take The Pressure Cooker Inventory and you’ll gain some perspective on why you always feel pressure.  Then read the recommendations on how to feel pressure-less.  Give yourself 1 (low) to 9 (high) points based on how you rate your position on the following items:
  • Frequently feel you are on alert
  • Feel you have to please others
  • Always feeling you have to produce results
  • Question your capabilities
  • Fear negative consequences if not successful
  • Feel others are counting on you; Worry about rejection from others
  • Competitive with others; Keep your feelings to yourself
  • Feel you can’t put down the load you are carrying

Scoring Parameters

80 -100—People in this range typically feel there is no relief from pressure, that they always “have to be on”, and can’t take a break. They feel burdened daily, and are always thinking about what they have to do the next day and yet are tired of “carrying the load.” They are concerned about their future at night and wake up, wondering if they will achieve their goals. Much of their working day is devoted to wondering if their boss and clients thinks well of them. They rarely feel they have job security.

Underlying these feelings are inherent pressure inducers that we all experience, but for those in this category, they are intensified because of their psychological make-up. These include their competitive nature –they always feel they have to be # 1 and “beat the other guy” or else be “weeded out” so their is always relentless pressure on them to perform better and better; their need to be accepted by others and fear of being rejected by others so they are always under the pressure of feeling they have to please others, and feeling responsible for others that often causes them to feel burdened..

Look at your responses for each item and reflect upon your reasons for your high rating.  You’ll get some revelations into how the aforementioned factors influence your feelings of pressure.

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40-70- –People in this range are like the above but to a lesser degree. They feel they always have something to do, they rarely take extended times to relax, worry about the future, and often feel they are behind the eight ball.

10-30: you feel in control of your life. They feel pressure in particular moments when they have to deliver the goods but do not experience daily burdensome feelings of pressure.

If you were to come to my office, I would give you five actions you can take to reduce the feelings of pressure you experience that you could do in just a few minutes. Here are a few of the things
I would prescribe to you:

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Focus on how good you are at something, not your ranking.  Competition is a natural pressure inducer because it encourages us to try to be better than others. The tradeoff is a constant feeling that “you have to be the best,” which can create unrealistic expectations and a sense that you don’t measure up. Focusing on your own excellence, rather than beating out the other person, puts you in control of your destiny. It promotes feelings of confidence, rather than pressure anxiety

Let your values and personal expectations guide you.  Literature, films and television shows are rich in story lines in which a characters feels enormous pressure to live up to the expectations of others and we relate to them because it’s such a common pressure.

Whether because of a fear of rejection or the need to be accepted, attempting to perform to meet the expectations of others helps to exacerbate pressure. It can force you to navigate a different course than you would otherwise.

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Staying true to your values and honoring the goals and expectations you set for yourself are more likely to reduce the feelings of pressure you experience and free yourself from feeling you always have to be pleasing others.

Focus on meaningful purpose, not incentives.  Those who pursue their passions, develop their interest and achieving a sense of purpose and meaning from their work are much more likely to experience positive emotions at work than those who focus on attaining incentives 
such as salaries bonuses and promotions. Paradoxically, those who focus excessively on attaining incentives or losing them are more likely to feel stress, anxiety, and fear— emotions that intensify feelings of pressure that, ironically, inhibit their capabilities to attain the very incentives they desire don’t, as well as greater productivity.

If you are starting out in the work world, follow your genuine interests— any pressure you experience will be buffered by the feelings of curiosity and fulfillment
that come from following your passions. If you’ve been in the work world for a while, try to rekindle your purpose.

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Appreciate what you “have,” not what you “have not.” Experiencing joy is a great minimizer of pressure. Appreciate the people, events, opportunities, and achievements that enrich your life, but which so many of us often take for granted. Focusing on what you
 don’t have will likely increase your feelings of pressure. To feel pressure-less, take a few minutes each day to appreciate what you have. You’ll actually be stimulating the reward center in your brain which creates pleasurable feelings so you’ll will feel calmer, happier, and more relaxed.

We all live in the Age of Pressure but you don’t have to let it cook you —you can depressurize!

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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