How to Stay Cool Under Pressure

It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned industry veteran or a novice entrepreneur, there will be times in your career when you encounter stressful situations. You will be required to perform under pressure, and it’s how you respond to this strain that can truly define who you are to other people. If you’re someone who reacts with anger at the slightest provocation, people will learn not to bring negative news to you. If you’re someone who crumples under pressure, you’re not going to make for a very effective leader.

Staying calm and proactive in times of great stress can help you collect your thoughts, process a plan of action, and move forward towards a solution. Here are some tactics you can practice to help you stay cool when the situation starts heating up:

Practice proper breathing.

That statement sounds a bit silly: ‘proper breathing’ is something we must be doing all day every day or else we’d be dead, right? While your breathing is no effective, proper breathing necessitates a bit more conscious thought. Regular breathing is typically shallow, meaning that the diaphragm muscles aren’t being utilized. By inhaling with your stomach using a method called belly breathing — where instead of breathing with your chest you inhale and exhale by pushing out your abdomen — you can relieve tension and help bring yourself to a more calm state. Repeating this exercise a few times during a stressful situation can help to calm your nerves and clear your mind.

If it’s a planned event, rehearse!

The old expression ‘practice makes perfect’ has stuck around so long for a reason: practicing something helps you to be better prepared and perform more effectively. If you’re giving a speech or a presentation that really has you on edge, run through it whenever you have the chance. If you’re prepping for a huge meeting, make sure you go over any points you have and study any material until you understand it thoroughly. The best chance you have for remaining calm in these anxiety-ridden situations is to make sure you’re prepared the best that you can be.

Focus on finding a solution, not on negativity.

If something has gone wrong, the last thing that anyone needs is a round of the blame game. Instead of perseverating on what went wrong and how there’s a problem to be fixed, look instead for solutions and ways that you can improve the situation rather than add to the issue.