9 Tips For Staying Calm Under Pressure at Work

By Jamie Birt

Updated March 29, 2022 | Published June 1, 2021

Updated March 29, 2022

Published June 1, 2021

Jamie Birt is a career coach with 4+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.

While you may enjoy your job, there may also be times when your work feels intense. Whether you need to work with a challenging client or complete a long list of tasks, there are strategies to help you stay relaxed despite the circumstances. By having calming strategies, you can stay focused and productive on even the most unpredictable workdays. In this article, we explain the importance of relaxation strategies and how to stay calm under pressure.

Related: 16 Tips for When You're Stressed About Work

Why is knowing how to stay calm under pressure important?

Knowing how to stay calm under pressure is important for the following reasons:

  • More optimism: Having strategies to help you stay positive during challenges can help you become a more optimistic person. After a while, you may develop a good habit of seeing the positive side of things rather than instantly focusing on potential challenges or barriers to your success.

  • Better focus: When you learn how to manage your emotions when you're feeling stressed, you can feel more focused on your work rather than your anxious thoughts. This allows you to be a more productive employee.

  • Relaxed presence: Staying calm under pressure shows that you can handle any challenges that come your way. People may notice your calm demeanor, which may show that you are ready to take on new challenges and responsibilities.

Related: 11 Ways To Relax at Work

How to stay calm under pressure

There may be times throughout your career where you have a heavy workload to manage. Rather than spending your precious time stressing about deadlines, there are strategies that can help you stay focused and productive. Follow these steps to stay calm under pressure:

1. Practice healthy habits

Living a healthy lifestyle can help you calm your stress levels and stay focused throughout the workday. By showing up to work well-rested, you may have additional energy to take on more challenging tasks. Likewise, eating healthy meals throughout the day gives your body the stamina it needs to get your tasks done. Exercise can also help you beat feelings of stress since it helps your body release endorphins that promote positive feelings.

2. Organize your priorities

At the start of each workday, assess your to-do list, adjusting your tasks based on which ones have the highest priority. By being realistic about what you have to accomplish in a day, you can make your workflow more manageable. Organizing your priorities also gives you the opportunities to adjust your timelines or recruit help if you feel like your schedule is full.

Related: How To De-Stress at Work

3. Focus on the present

Going back and forth between tasks can take up more time and limit your focus. Rather than trying to multitask, direct your attention to one task or project at a time. Resist the urge to worry about the next thing on your to-do list and focus on what you are doing in the present moment. Remind yourself that before you're able to go on to your next task, you must finish the one you are currently doing. Living with a present mindset can help you increase your focus and actually get more work done in a shorter period of time.

4. Think of your end goals

When you have an especially busy week of work, you can stay calm by thinking about the potential rewards of all your hard work. Whether it's being able to enjoy a relaxing weekend or increasing your chances of getting a promotion, thinking about your end goals can help you develop a better attitude about what you need to do. If you find your work needs more direction, take a moment to create some goals for yourself.

5. Take a quick break

Taking a quick break in between tasks can help you relax your mind and reset your energy levels. If you're able to, consider going on a 15-minute walk outside to get some fresh air. Use this as a chance to let your thoughts wander to things outside of work. You can even set a timer to help you focus on yourself rather than the clock. If you're someone who is social, using your break to chat with a colleague can also reduce your stress levels. Consider talking about lighthearted topics that make you happy.

Related: What To Do When You're Feeling Overworked

6. Process how you're feeling

Before you're able to calm down, you need to let yourself process how you're feeling. Instead of ignoring your stress levels, reflect on why you're feeling stressed. Perhaps you have more work than you can manage. By reflecting on your situation and emotions, you can come up with a solution. In this case, you could ask for an extension or see if your team member can help. Finding solutions for yourself can help you feel more calm and ready to get back to work.

7. Practice deep breathing

When your heart starts racing, step away from your work for a moment to breathe. Find a quiet space where you can close your eyes and focus on your breath. Even taking a few minutes to do deep breathing exercises can help you reset your mind and feel more at ease.

8. Reflect on the positives

When you're under pressure, focusing on the positives can help you feel better about meeting your obligations. For instance, if you feel stressed about leading a presentation, reframe your mindset to see this as a chance to develop your public speaking skills. By thinking of challenges as opportunities to grow, you can convince yourself that these are positive situations for your career. Over time, you can learn to have a more positive mindset naturally.

9. Limit what you do

If you're already feeling under pressure, set some boundaries for yourself. It's okay to say, "I'm actually quite busy right now, but I would love to help you out another time." when a coworker asks you to take on another task. By getting through your current to-do list before taking on more projects, you can be in a better mind space when you eventually have time to start filling your schedule again.

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