8 Ways to Stay Composed Under Pressure

When times get tough at the office, we often turn to those unflappable, grounded people who seem to be capable of handling any situation. What's their secret to appearing confident regardless of the pressure? While tension and stress are inevitable at work, our reaction is entirely our own choice.

Follow these tips to exude strength and confidence in the midst of office chaos:

  1. Relax. Be mindful of how your body is responding. Are your shoulders hunched up around your ears or are your fists and teeth clenched? Take a few moments to breathe deeply and focus on relaxing every part of your body. This is a natural exercise we can all make time for, and it's discreet enough to do at your desk.
  2. Take five. Make a point to assess the situation, ask pertinent questions, and process what has taken place before responding. There may not be an immediate solution, and it's not necessary to give an answer that has not been thoroughly thought out.
  3. Rely on others for support. A team of trusted colleagues, friends, and mentors can serve as invaluable advisors. Life is much easier when we can lean on others to serve as sounding boards, if only to offer another perspective or simply to listen. Build a core group of supporters who will be there for you in times of crisis.
  4. Take care of yourself. One big secret of those who remain cool under pressure is their dedication to a healthy lifestyle. Stick to a healthy routine, whether stress is swirling around you or everything is going beautifully. Exercise is a great stress neutralizer. Eating well and getting enough sleep will also keep you in top form. Walking just 30 minutes a day will do wonders for your physical and mental well-being.
  5. Step away from the situation. You can't undo a temper tantrum. The best strategy for preventing a public meltdown is to excuse yourself until strong emotions subside. Prior to departing, let it be known that you will be addressing the issue in the immediate future. You might say, "I need some time to think through this information. Can we regroup at 3:00 pm this afternoon?"
  6. Remember that you are setting an example. Whether you are the receptionist or the CEO, others will notice how you handle adversity. Use workplace challenges as an opportunity to help those around you stay calm as they follow your lead. Be a role model for handling stress with poise and a cool head.
  7. Look for the lesson. It has been said that there are but two outcomes for any occurrence, success or education. Proactively look at ways to correct the situation, but also consider how the knowledge you are gaining will help you in the future.
  8. Finally, keep workplace turmoil in perspective. You will survive and come out of the experience wiser. Think of others, those you know or admire from afar, who have survived office upheaval and gone on to achieve bigger and better opportunities. Handling professional setbacks is part of a successful career.

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