Have you ever yelled, Freddie Mercury’s song lyrics, “I want to break free!” - only you mean it on a professional level? You’re in a high-pressure job, embodying a high-pressure role. Perhaps you are a fire-fighter, police officer, or a healthcare professional, and are feeling the stress spiral out of control. What do you do? Here are 10 tips to help you deal with your high-pressure job:
#1 Prepare before diving right in
Imagine if the army was not trained rigorously before being sent to the border. Unimaginable, right? You too must prepare yourself before going into a situation. Collecting data, doing rehearsals and drills such as fire drills or mock evacuation drives, and creating and practicing ‘templates’ in your mind on responding to high-pressure situations calmly, helps. Taking a deep breath before acting or doing a quick grounding exercise will prevent you from getting stuck in the freeze response.
#2 Tracking specific stressors
To identify your stress patterns, after being in a stressful situation try to recount the specific factors of the situation that stressed you out. Keep track of them in a notebook and record how you felt in those moments. Try to identify patterns. In the words of the therapist Emma McAdam, you must “Name it to tame it.” You can work on your stressors yourself or take the help of a professional.
#3 Free yourself
Just because you fight for a noble cause, does not mean you need to dedicate yourself entirely and work tirelessly (okay, you are a hero, but you’re also human). Embrace your humanity, including your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. You are not foolproof. Big deal? Never imagine everything to be under your control. This will lead to the belief that everything is your responsibility. It’s not. You’re just human. You make bad decisions sometimes. That’s okay.
#4 The free-writing method for journaling
Journaling can help you regulate emotions, especially if you use the ‘free-writing’ method. Free writing is a technique writers practice before beginning to write. During free-writing, you write whatever comes to mind - sentences, phrases, names, ideas, or random words. If nothing comes to mind, you write, ‘nothing comes to mind.’ The aim is to remove hesitations about what you can or cannot express. After free writing practice, you can also journal freely. Manahverse offers journaling and mood board tools.
#5 The science of hobbies
When was the last time you picked up a book, planted lilies, painted, or cooked for fun? Researchers conclude hobbies help to reduce stress and depression by kicking off ‘the reward system’ in the brain. When you do what you love, your body releases dopamine which in turn makes you want to do more of it.
#6 The Peter-Pan Way
Flashback to the time you were young and watched Peter Pan on TV. Remember how Peter Pan could fly when he thought happy thoughts? This is to say, keep a gratitude journal! Every night before bed, irrespective of how bad your day was, make a note of the things that made you happy, even if it was just a cup of coffee.
#7 Check in with yourself
Are you always in the grind? Stop. Breathe. Check in with yourself. Sit in a quiet corner with a pen and write down how you feel. Do you feel depressed, burnt out, or angry? Instead of judging your emotions, give yourself permission to feel everything. If it's hard to understand your feelings, you can let Manah Wellness check in with you by taking their comprehensive and 100% confidential assessment. Employers are also advised to make use of it to gauge the risk factors for their employees.
#8 Release stress trapped in your body
The funny thing about stress and trauma is that they do not just build up in your mind, but also in your body. Stress trapped in the body could manifest as tensed muscles, difficulty eating or sleeping, weak legs, etc. The best way to release the stress trapped in your body is to work it. Cardio workouts like jogging or aerobics are especially beneficial. Hobbies like boxing, trekking, rock climbing, swimming, or dancing, also help.
#9 Take a vacation
Honestly, you’ve been working very hard, now just relax and take a vacation! Go somewhere, meet new people, eat good food, embrace other cultures, and simply have fun! Let yourself know that the world is a big and beautiful place. Let new experiences enrich your life.
#10 Find ‘meaning’ at work
Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning wrote, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.” This is not to say you should keep working even if it's killing you. NO. Toxic positivity is not only pointless, it’s also harmful. As long as you’re not on that route, try to find the ‘deeper meaning’ in your work. It does not need to be welfare, it could be something as ‘silly’ as liking the adrenaline rush of making tough, time-constrained decisions. The aim is to find something that brings you satisfaction and makes you feel like your work is worth doing.
The trick to not only survive but also thrive in your high-pressure job is to balance out work with self-care.