According to the Mayo Clinic, “Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.”
For many of us, our work and daily activities require problem-solving, time management, planning for the future, managing conflict, worrying about finances, and multi-tasking. On a deeper level, we may have subconscious concerns about mistakes we have made in the past, the desire to impress certain people, what we don’t have, fears for our future, and projects or experiences that overwhelm us.
This type of mental strain puts a lot of mental and physical stress on our entire body’s health. There are mental practices that can help us reduce the stress of negative thoughts to help us maximize our potential in high-pressure situations. Mindfulness exercises can help give you options for proactive choices and patterns of thinking. It can help give clarity and thoughtfulness when you are required to make decisions that feel demanding.
Be Fully Present
In mindfulness practices, the goal is to be fully present and aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it. It is also a means to be proactive, instead of reactive, in any given situation — to remain calm instead of overwhelmed. Mindfulness is something all humans have a natural ability to do, but when you practice it on a daily basis, it becomes more readily available for use in stressful situations.
Many times under pressure, your normally high performance can turn into panic and poor decision-making. Instead of being distracted by the pressure, the best thing you can do is to choose to place your attention on the present moment in order to be able to concentrate on what is right in front of you — instead of concentrating on the feelings of panic or being overwhelmed.
A great exercise to help you become grounded in the present moment is to engage all of your senses — consciously think about what you smell, taste, see, and feel on your skin. You can also scan the position of your body from your toes to your head. This is a way to train your brain to focus on what you decide needs to be focused on instead of letting your anxious thoughts take over.
You have the ability to excel under pressure when you are able to choose where you place your attention. Practicing where you put your attention is a great way to be ready to focus when a stressful situation comes up.
Engage in These Practices and Thoughts
Pressure can trigger a flight or fight response in our body, creating feelings of anxiety, worry, and panic. The great news is that there are practices that can quickly move us out of that stressful place and move us to a place of calm.
- Breathing: Deep breathing tells your body to stop releasing stress hormones to your brain. This helps you move from a place of confusion and panic to a place of calm. In the moment, even just closing your eyes, taking five deep breaths, and focusing on the rhythm of the breath as it moves in and out of your body can be quite effective in helping you find clarity and peace under pressure.
- Positive Thinking: Many times, thinking positively is much easier said than done. But when combined with mindfulness practices and deep breathing, you might find that it is easier to look for the positive side of the situation. When you work to think of positive outcomes, ideas, or scenarios, your brain will respond accordingly with more tranquility, and that in turn will help you continue to engage in even more positive options.
- Walking: If you are able to break away from a pressurized environment, even a five-minute walk can release chemicals in your brain to help create a feeling of peace in the middle of stress. It can also give you the time to practice your breathing or mindfulness techniques to change your thought patterns as you go back into an anxiety-producing situation.
- Accepting: Accepting yourself and your situation is a great way to begin to stabilize the situation. You need your self-talk to treat you the same way you would treat a good friend. Be kind to yourself. When you are kind, you usually have the ability to understand your vulnerabilities, assess them, and engage with them to shore them up.
When you feel pressure, you might feel those insecurities creep in and stir up worry and fear. If you are able to nurture your insecurities, you can begin to think from a place of acceptance. You can’t control what comes at you in life, but you can engage in decision-making based on calmness instead of worry or fear.
The more you practice, the more you will be able to choose how you want to think under pressure. Many mindfulness exercises can be practiced anywhere, and research has shown that the practice of engaging your senses outdoors can be especially effective in creating calming, peaceful thought patterns.
One of the more structured options for practicing mindfulness is through yoga. Practicing yoga teaches your body through the repetition of habit. At OWM Wellness, we work with your whole health, body, and mind to create stability wellness. We walk alongside you in your health journey, helping your body heal itself through the restoration of its vital functions and processes. Click here to learn more about our integrative approach, or call us at 716-626-6301 to learn more about how you can live a more stress-free life.