Posts Tagged ‘pressure’

Planning for a stress-free summer

April 16, 2012

As we embark on a new term, the last of this academic year, what are your thoughts about how it will unfold?

Are they filled with excitement, enthusiasm and energy?

Or do you start like this, then the enthusiasm wanes when an excess of external (or internal) pressures arise?

The school summer term is often a very busy one, usually packed out with  last minute exam preparation and administration, teacher assessments, school performances, trips, sports days … not to mention report writing and parent’s evenings.

When I taught full time, I’d start with great enthusiasm but this could often wane.

So how do you ensure you don’t burn out before you’re even half-way through the term? Here are some ideas that I used to see me all the way through to the end of term:

1. Pace yourself

An obvious one, and perhaps easier said than done. But with a little bit of planning and foresight you can ensure you have maximum energy at key times. As a starting point, on a term planner identify the weeks where you’ll need most energy. Aim to expend less energy in the previous week(s) to build up your reserves.

Also, tell yourself that it’s OK to not be working flat-out every day, all day!

2. Know your limits

This is about knowing when you’ve reached that tipping point where – if you continue – you’ll become ill/stressed. (NB Stress = excess pressure that affects emotional, physical or mental wellbeing and will be different for each of us.)

Address these moments by avoiding any default ‘saying yes to everything’ setting you may have!

3. Create great resilience

How quickly do you bounce back from exposure to sources of stress?

Resilience isn’t something you’re born with, you can develop a capacity for resilience given the right work conditions and attitude.

Practise techniques to de-pressurise situations, establish realistic expectations of your role, and take advantage of challenges – turn them into personal growth opportunities – this will help to make future similar situations more tolerable.

More on this topic in a forthcoming blog.

4. Adopt a healthy approach
  • Eat food that gives you the most energy
  • Ward off summer colds/viruses by keeping up the Vit C
  • Avoid caffeine late at night as it’ll inhibit a restful sleep. For those nights where you’re working late, go for caffeine-free instead
  • Avoid dehydration – I’ve found that putting a bottle of water somewhere that I pass regularly helps as a reminder (on the desk, by the door …) Take a sip each time you pass (or as often as you can!)
How do you ensure a stress-free (or stress-reduced!) term?

(Photo credits: farconville and Paul)

Do you crack under pressure?

February 26, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 26

Yesterday’s blog introduced a discussion about ways we deal with pressure and how we respond to pressured situations.

Today I continue with this theme and suggest some tactics you can use when feeling under pressure.

So, do you crack under pressure, or do you have successful strategies to cope with it?

Strategies to ‘de-pressurise’

1. Reduce the importance

Increased feelings of being under pressure can come from the amount of importance we give a situation. By changing our assessment (or perception) of it, to make it less crucial, we reduce the feelings of pressure that accompany it.

2. Reduce the likelihood

We can have a tendency (or habit) to exaggerate the probability of the negative outcome happening. Play this down by asking yourself what the chances are – realistically – of it happening.

3. Thinking differently

As Anne did in yesterday’s scenario, thinking about the situation in a different (solution-focused, practical) way will make it feel less daunting.

Here’s another example:

Scenario: Organising a holiday, but everything seems to be going wrong! …

  • the cheap tickets you saw last week are now twice the price
  • the hotel that was recommended is now fully booked
  • your neighbours have just returned from the country you want to travel to and said they had a terrible time
  • a close friend has invited you to a special meal during your week away
  • you discover your passport is due to expire in 4 weeks

Thoughts about giving up may pass through your mind at this point, but try this alternative way to perceive the situation

  • flying normal as opposed to budget may be more expensive but you may have a more comfortable flight and land at an airport nearer your accommodation
  • you could stay somewhere quieter, rather than a hotel that’s full to bursting
  • ask the neighbours which places to avoid
  • tell your friend you’ll do something special when you get back
  • getting a new passport is often a good opportunity to change that photo you’ve never liked!

How do you change the way you think about situations in order to reduce those feelings of being under pressure?

(Photo courtesy of Salvatore Vuono)