Healthy Living

The Pressure To Perform Is Destroying Our Well-Being

The more stress we feel, the more out-of-touch we are with our health. Here's how to fix it.

Attention universe: It's time to take control of your health.

Recently, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson passed out at a press conference, leading many to speculate about what caused the incident. Alderson didn't eat breakfast, according to a press club statement. Low blood sugar caused by skipping meals is a common cause of fainting and could have potentially contributed to or caused the fainting spell. Later, reports said he began feeling dizzy in front of the television lights, but continued with interviews -- even going so far as to continue the press conference after he recovered from passing out.

Earlier this year, BMW CEO Harald Krueger collapsed during an auto show in Germany. Like Alderson, Krueger also reported feeling sick but pushed forward with his schedule regardless.

Pressure -- the kind we put on ourselves and the kind we feel from others -- can have a huge consequences when it comes to our well-being. When we're expected perform, whether it's at the World Series, at an auto show or at our desks on an average Tuesday, we likely put our immediate health low on our priority lists. And that's a huge problem.

Amit Sood, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, says that while stressful circumstances are unavoidable, it's important to regularly take stock of our physical and emotional health before it results in an incident like a collapse.

Below, Sood offers some tips for anyone facing a high-pressure situation -- whether it's a job presentation, an athlete in a game or just making a decision.

1. Know how stress impacts you.

Ignoring stress doesn't just take a toll on our physical health, it also stunts our ability to perform. Excessive levels of stress can negatively affect our judgment, memory and decision making, Sood tells The Huffington Post. "When you're not managing stress, you're essentially fighting yourself," he explained. "Your executive functions are impaired."

2. Get some sleep.

Unfortunately, stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, so it's essential to prioritize shuteye in order to manage any level of anxiety. "Stress has a way of neutralizing sleepiness," Sood explained. To prevent this from happening, try one of these calming sleep tricks.

3. Look at the bigger picture.

When we think about it, whatever high-pressure situation we're facing is really just a blip on the radar in comparison to the rest of our lives. By "zooming out" and keeping this perspective, we're better able to handle our emotions, Sood said.

4. Turn stress into an advantage.

There's a reason stress is a universal emotion: It's biological. It urges us to act against a perceived threat -- and that can be a powerful tool if used properly. We should allow stress to motivate us, but not control us, Sood explains. Let the adrenaline be motivation. "Think of it this way: Steam and pressure can propel an engine," he said. "Stress provides us the energy to make things happen."

5. If all else fails, do some deep breathing.

"We hear this advice a lot because it works," Sood said. Deep breathing calms our nervous system. When we're anxious, our breath becomes rapid. We can control those emotions by flipping the reaction.

Overall, Sood says if stress is affecting everyday functions it may be time to see a doctor. "Every human being is going to be stressed," he said. "You need to recognize the difference between optional and inevitable stress. If you're stressing out from optional stressors -- things that are not in your control -- you're making your life miserable."


Also on HuffPost:

100 Ways To De-Stress