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Feeling Overwhelmed Or Under Pressure, What Can You Do?

When you are feeling overwhelmed or under pressure it is very difficult to work or perform well. This is because the worry, fear, stress, anxiety and panic will all impact your performance negatively. When you feel overwhelmed and under pressure will be personal to you and may be due to a wide range of causes, including, for example, trying to meet a deadline, financial or family crises, doing something you have never done before, a promotion at work or an equipment failure.

Here are some tips and ideas as to what you can do when you are feeling overwhelmed or under pressure:

Calm yourself down. This is not easy at all when you are feeling overwhelmed or under pressure, as you will be feeling anything but calm. When you start to feel overwhelmed or under pressure, try taking a break from where you are and move into a different space e.g. go for a walk so you can think things through. Reassure yourself that everything will be okay and that this is just a short term state you are in. You may want to try some breathing, relaxation or meditation practises. Also sharing how you are feeling with someone else may help you feel calmer.

Consider your resources. How have you dealt with and overcome pressure, overwhelm and similar situations in the past? What knowledge, experience and resources do you have that can help you with the current overwhelm and pressure? Who can you ask for support?

Be positive and realistic. A positive approach will help you feel in control, confident and enable you to perform at your best, so even when you are feeling overwhelmed and under pressure try to stay positive. Look for the positive side of where you are and think about what has gone well and how you can reduce the overwhelm and pressure. Being positive is not enough on its own, you also need to be realistic about the situation you are in, accept where you are and focus on moving forward to a better place.

Put things in perspective. Find out as much information as possible about the current situation and what needs to be done. Consider the overwhelm and pressure you are under from different angles and perspectives and put the situation into context of your life and work. Think about the worst and best possible outcomes to understand what you are dealing with. What may seem the end of the world is often much smaller and of less importance than you first thought!

Plan the way forward. When you are overwhelmed and under pressure you can end up rushing into things without thinking them through. Create a plan with everyone involved of what needs to be done to move you forward to a better place. Make sure your plan is achievable and broken down into small manageable steps. Be flexible and prepared to change your plan as things progress.

Take action. Pressure and overwhelm can result in inaction, and even paralysis, which will not take you forward. The key to moving forward is taking action. This will help calm you and others down, as well as relieve some of the pressure and overwhelm as you start moving forward towards a successful outcome. Start by taking small and easy actions to get you started.

Be decisive. Overwhelm and pressure can result in indecision, which is very unhelpful to getting yourself out of the situation you are in. The key is to be decisive and take decisions in a timely and considered way. If you are struggling to decide, ask for help and support from someone else to get you started.

Keep focused on the plan. When you are under pressure and overwhelmed the enormity of the situation can keep you stuck where you are. To help with this, work through the plan step by step. Stay in the moment and focus on the task in hand rather than worrying about the outcome.

Consider the way you think. How you think impacts how you feel. When you are overwhelmed and under pressure your mind can start thinking in unhelpful ways including catastrophising, over generalising, filtering out helpful information and ignoring the positives. Pay attention to your thinking and where it is unhelpful to the current situation look at how you can think differently.

Write things down. When you are under pressure and overwhelmed you may forget things and get confused. A good tip here is to make notes and write everything down as this will help you to feel in control and give you something to refer to and use as an aide memoire.

Ask for help and support. If you are feeling overwhelmed and under pressure and cannot cope on your own or see a way forward, ask for help and support from a friend, colleague, your manager or a professional.

Hopefully the above tips and ideas will help you if you are feeling overwhelmed or under pressure.

If you want to explore stress management further, take a look at our online stress management courses.

Author: Liz Makin
Published: October 2021

Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including communication, resilience, time management, stress management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.


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