Pressure: the “must”, the “perfect” and the “excellence” words stream unconsciously at the sound of the word.
It doesn’t really matter if the pressure is being piled on your from other people or put on your by your own self… pressure is extremely bad news!
If you think you are too smart (like I did!) to let pressure phase you, studies have shown that the smarter you are, the more “pressure” can really topple your life.
Pressure to achieve can take you out of the present and into your head, second-guessing every move you make. Pressure to be perfect can cripple your health, even if you aren’t aware of it at the moment because you are too busy with your eye fixed single-mindedly on the perfect prize. And pressure in general can cause huge stresses that warp your life.
Today, I wanted to share some science behind putting pressure on your self and how to alleviate that pressure. You do not need to be unravelling at the seams or about to burst from overload in order to life your dreams and do great things. In fact, quite the opposite is true, despite what our modern culture might suggest!
Here are three big reasons to stop living under extreme pressure
… and ideas to ditch the pressure starting right now!
1. If you are smart and under extreme pressure, you are more likely to “choke.” If you can stay relaxed and present, you will have access to your abilities!
” Thinking too much about what you are doing because you are worried about failing can lead to “paralysis by analysis,” Beilock says. That was what led to her downfall at the important soccer match. Part of how people become experts at tasks like saving goals or making golf putts is by practicing so much that key movements become automatic and reliable. Thinking too much about each specific part of the task can throw off well-practiced techniques.
The antidote? Try to stay out of your head when all eyes are on you! Whistling while you work can actually help!!!
” One implication of that finding is that expert performers can benefit from taking their minds off of the tasks they have perfected. Even a simple trick of singing helps prevent portions of the brain that might interfere with performance from taking over, Beilock’s research shows. “Whistling while you work” really can help for such experts.” “
2. If you are a die-hard perfectionist, you may be damaging your health along with paralyzing your creative life and personal genius. Seriously: perfectionism reaps very few rewards. This scholarly analysis of perfectionism and health is eye-opening:
” Some of the largest costs associated with perfectionism may be in terms of poor health. A longitudinal study following a sample of Canadians over 6.5 years showed that trait perfectionism predicted earlier mortality (Fry & Debats, 2009). This finding held even after controlling for other health risk factors such as pessimism and low conscientiousness. A subsequent 2011 study of diabetes patients by the same investigators yielded a more anomalous pattern of results. Still, a link between perfectionism and serious illness is not surprising given that unrelenting perfectionism can be a recipe for chronic stress. Unfortunately for perfectionists, recent data in our lab (Baricza, Gupta, Hewitt, & Endler, 2011) suggest that once perfectionists experience a chronic health problem, they have coping difficulties.” (via)
3. Pressure that has no outlet increases stress. Stress increases cortisol. Cortisol can make you seem and look crazy (even though you are just under too much pressure!) as well as very sick, as afore mentioned. We all have stress in our daily lives and the cortisol hormone helps us to manage that stress. In excess- when you are under extreme pressure- cortisol can go awry. It can make you feel crazy… even if you are totally sane and just under too much pressure!
Are you ready to lighten the load of pressure in your life?
You will have less stress.
You will be in a better mood.
You will have more access to your talents creatively, analytically and physically.
You will have a more sound immune system.
You will reduce your chances of serious illness.
You will likely get much more done.
And… your life will be in flow!
Ideas to dump some of the pressure in your life:
1. Lighten your life. THIS post is full of ideas to lighten your environment to help alleviate tension.
2. Take self-care seriously as a necessity, not as a luxury. Massages, yoga, exercise, sleep, homeopathy… these are not luxuries when you have been living under too much pressure. These are the core essentials to mantaining your energy and well-being.
3. Commit to extricating yourself from environments and situations that put too much pressure on your life. While some may be long-term plans, making and working on plans to leave high-pressure, unrewarding jobs, relationships and environments will start taking the pressure off right now. Even small steps toward your freedom will release some of the “trapped” tension.
4. Let yourself have creative mess! That’s right. Creative mess. If you have a hobby, talent, unexplored interests… set aside a place in your home to explore these talents without any pressure (!) in a creatively messy, dive-in and pasionately-explore type of way! A creative mess of drawings, books, films, notes, whateve it is… Its a great way of becoming OK with the imperfection of creative growth!
Wishing you a world of your own where you can live with freedom, create, love and indulge with excitement! xoxo Dana