Under Pressure

I really struggle with daily pressures. In today’s society I think we are all about “go, go, go”. We are constantly trying to be the best we can be, but with that we barely take time out to enjoy life. I have written about the power of balance and the power of rest before; the pressures of life make these two powerful aspects all the more important in order for us to enjoy a happy and healthy life.

Pressure helps with success. We all need a little bit of healthy stress to get us out of bed, to work, to help with family, to succeed and to get through our daily tasks. But what happens when that pressure becomes too much, and we can’t cope?

My daily list of pressures and expectations reads something like this; wake up early, make myself look good, eat breakfast, get to university early, be super productive, look after my blog, eat well, exercise, be a good student, be a good friend, be a good daughter, be a good sister, be a good girlfriend, email back, text back, get to bed early, don’t spend too much money, do well at work, be a good tutor, research, create, take time out for myself, sleep well, the list goes on.

And that’s just my list of daily pressures, my week long, monthly and yearly goals only add to the pressure.

I know that these pressures might seem like nothing to someone who is coping with a lot more than I do, but to me, they are there and they are there to help me to be my best. But, due to my anxiety, when one aspect of my list doesn’t go to plan, the whole world seems to cave in. I can’t sleep, I can’t get out of bed, I can’t concentrate, I get anxious and emotional and I lash out. I avoid social contact. I feel guilty. I turn into a big mess just because, say, I didn’t get a good sleep, I ate a muffin for breakfast or I couldn’t find time to cook dinner for my family. Embarrassing.

They are such little things, but because I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to be the very best, when I’m not perfect I just let everything fall apart. I certainly don’t enjoy being the mess that I become when things don’t go to plan. I genuinely hate it and it always makes things harder and it always makes things worse.

I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who does this. Hands up if you struggle with daily stress and anxiety?

How, then, to cut back on this daily pressure to be perfect? How do you stop feeling like a failure when in fact, you’re doing the very best that you can?

Try some of these ideas that have helped me:

+ Break tasks down and set small and achievable goals. How do you eat an entire cake? One bite at a time.

+ Note that nobody is perfect and success only comes with hard work. Successful people know and understand that mistakes, falls and tumbles only help to make them stronger. Learn from your mistakes, revel in failure.

+ Aim to be adequate, not perfect.

+ Don’t let small pressures become big ones. If you trip up, brush it off and keep moving. It helps me to think back to my football playing days. I was a tough player, if I got hurt, or pushed, or shoved, I’d brush it off, get straight back up and play even harder. If I trip up on one of my tasks, I need to get back up and keep going.

+ You have friends for a reason. They will be there for you whether you can see them every day or only once a month. They will understand if you need time to rest. They will understand if you can’t see them due to uni/work/family pressures. They will be there for you no matter what, and you ARE a good friend to them. This applies to all relationships in your life.

+ To stop procrastination, think of tasks you need to do but don’t want to do as ugly frogs that you have to eat; the longer you leave them, the slimier, bigger and grosser they get. Better to eat it now and get it over and done with than have this little frog staring at you all week!

+ Remind yourself that you are doing the very best that you can. List the things that you have accomplished throughout the day, chances are, even if it feels like very little, you will have accomplished something!

+ Take time to be thankful for what is good in your life or what has made you happy during the day. This is helpful for those who let negative thoughts spiral out of control, reminding yourself of the positive will stop those negative thoughts get the better of you.

+ Be kind to yourself. Let yourself rest. Breathe deeply.

+ Focus on the present. My mantra is “be here now”.

+ Prioritise your pressures. At the moment, university is my focus because I need to do well in order to pursue my future career. My friends, family and boyfriend know this, accept this and they support me however they can.

+ Finally, realise that your list of pressures is kind of ridiculous and really, life is not that hard. Try writing it all down and rewrite it in a more sensible, calming way. The rest will just fall into place. Rewriting my list I would write; work hard at university, look after myself and others.

+ Emergency advice: if you do let your pressures get to you and you feel overwhelmed, take a long, hot bath/shower, rub your face really hard with your hands, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m doing the very best I can”, eat a burger/cake, call your best friend and put on your favourite movie, then have a good sleep. Tomorrow is another day.

Most importantly, no matter what, remember to SMILE!

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XO

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