Performing under pressure and overcoming stress
In physics, pressure is an antagonist – typically a gaseous or fluid body – that acts upon an object in a perpendicular direction, producing a sensation or physical change. Stress is usually a solid, that can internally affect another body either by perpendicular contact or parallel influence.
And so it is with life. Many of us confuse stress and pressure. In human existence, pressures are direct and fluid: always changing. Whereas stress is as much tangible as it is perceived: stress can hover parallel to our circumstance and still impact us by the mere threat of its proximity.
There are evidence-based ways to perform well under pressure as well as practical insights to withstand stress.
Signs of stress versus signs of pressure
According to renowned psychologist Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D., stress and pressure differ in that:
“Stress refers to the situation of too many demands and not enough resources – time, money, energy – to meet them.
“Pressure is a situation in which you perceive that something at stake is dependent on the outcome of your performance.”
Both can overlap and both can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed but knowing what the acute situation is will help to target a productive response, fortified by an attitude of self-care.
Which way do you eat an elephant?
Correct identification of stress versus pressures helps not to be overloaded by the whole elephant, but to strategize appropriately to take it one bite at a time.
According to an article in Forbes, pressure often boils down to a “do or die” moment of truth. This is where preparation, consistency and emotional intelligence lay the foundation for which performance should occur within one’s repertoire.
If Olympian Usain Bolt were asked to participate in a foot race, he’d feel no pressure. A hostage in an armed robbery, barked at to move money into a bag faster, is under pressure.
In contrast, stress has to do with the impression – real or interpreted – one lacks the resources to accomplish a task or trial.
North Koreans forced to work tirelessly to complete a full block of construction – including a skyscraper – in a few months time are stressed. These same workers, even given crystal meth by supervisors to complete the project, are also under pressure.
Different from pressure, one under stress can comparatively take an objective approach: “Do I have the power to obtain needed resources?” If so, that becomes objective number one. If not, the burden is not on them; it may instead be on a superior or family member and less a matter of stress and more of communication or “accepting what cannot be changed,” as is said in 12 steps.
It is common to be the passive victim of transference when it comes to absorbing others’ distress or actively adopting another’s stress. October is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Awareness month and there are strategies to boost EQ and practically employ best practices.
Cognitive success tools
Weisinger points out pressure and stress, downgrades people with a low EQ: Attacks thoughts, physical well-being and behavior. He says ethics are bent and judgement is impaired.
At 11 a.m. Wednesday, October 19, 2016, Weisinger will parse and point out nuances separating pressure from stress as well as what comprises the person who successfully withstands pressure.
In this free webinar, Weisinger will hack into mental fortitude, plus how you can build your COTE of Armor to shield to counter psychological turbulence and protect against relapse. To learn more about the webinar and register, click here.
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About the author
Sovereign Health Staff Writer Kristin Currin-Sheehan is a mindful spirit swimming in metaphysical pools with faith as her compass. Her cover: a 30-something Cinderella breadwinner of an all-sport blended family. Her repertoire includes writing and editing; writing poetry, lifestyle articles and TV news; radio production; and on-camera reporting. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at email@example.com.