Press Pause

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.”

Carl Rogers

I finally notice how much unnecessary pressure I’ve been putting on myself. From deadlines to dating, I tend to set the bar so high that anything less than a success feels like a failure.

From a psychological perspective, pressure is a perceived expectation of the need to perform well under challenging circumstances. From what we expect of ourselves to what others expect of us and we of them, we don’t want to fail or look silly.

By redirecting our focus away from the process and onto the results, expectations actually lead to poorer performance and can cause us to question our abilities and skills, causing a loss of confidence, doubt and uncertainty.

Time-oriented people cover their anxiety with a flurry of activities. When they stop what they are doing, they feel guilty and, consequently, begin the vicious cycle all over again. Sounds familiar?

This is exactly what happens in our heads during days spent multitasking and completing never-ending to-do lists at a frantic pace. We speed up in the belief that to ask for help or to protest at being overloaded is a sign of weakness.

We maintain a state of chaotic mental activity that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls psychic entropy. This is the opposite of the optimal psychological state of flow, where attention is allowed to sink into an activity without distraction

Luckily, there are some ways to cope with that pressure safely. Here are a few strategies for slowing down and dealing with expectations.

1.Challenge Your Thoughts

Change the way you think about expectation. Redefine your idea of success. Notice when others – or yourself – create unnecessary pressure and gently push back.

2. Counteract Stress

Think moderate exercise, a good night’s sleep, healthy nutrition and low reliance on stimulants, such as caffeine, sugar and alcohol.

3. Create Good Emotions

Talk to other people, listen to music, read a book or go for a walk. Basically, do anything that puts you in a good mood.

4. Prioritize People

Create a strong support network. Make conscious effort to cultivate your relationships and develop new friendships.

5. Organize And Simplify

Limit the clutter and noise in your life. Streamline your routines and create space.

6. Set Boundaries

Don’t overextend yourself. Every new commitment you accept adds stress into your life.

7. Learn To Wait 

Resist the urge to answer emails and texts – private and personal – right away.

8. Create The “I Want” List

Be spontaneous and leave the laundry for another day. Do something that you love to do instead.

9. Try Something New

Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work.

10. Do A Digital Detox

Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.

What are your strategies of slowing down? How do you deal with unreasonable expectations and pressure? Feel free to share in the comment section below.

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