How to perform under pressure

Have you ever succumbed to pressure after setting yourself a big task, or being involved in a challenging sporting event?

If the answer is yes, you are not alone.

We all struggle under pressure from time to time whether in sport, business or life. Even the world’s best sportspeople have wilted in a pressure environment. Every elite athlete has stories of failure under pressure.

While pressure is nothing new, if we don’t address it there’s a chance it will get the better of us.

How can we better perform under pressure or in a difficult situation? Consider the following four steps:

  1. List the action steps required to overcome the problem: Every challenge can be broken down into steps, which takes emotion out of the equation. You are more likely to see a big task reduced to smaller, achievable lots. This makes you more balanced and calm.
  2. Be in the moment: We are most powerful in the present moment – elite athletes know this, and it’s something they work hard on. A trick to being in the moment is noticing our five senses, thoughts, and emotions – this brings you back to the present.
  3. Execute each action step that has been listed: Some steps may seem elementary, but by executing each one you give over to process and remove emotion.
  4. Be prepared to start again: This is something elite sportspeople are good at. When you are prepared to start again then you have considered the worst-case scenario. Once you have dealt with the worst-case scenario and accept you can start again if it all goes wrong, you are less paralysed by fear of failure.

High achievers such as elite athletes practice these pressure steps over and over. The more you commit to it, the better you get.

Beneficial by-products from this practice include patience, calmness, and your leading the way through the path of least resistance.

If you’re interested in more information about what happens to the mind and body during pressure situations then you might enjoy this great article from psychotherapist Amy Morin.


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