Pressure in professional practice is considered to be a common denominator. Used sparingly, pressure can relate to initial feelings that are overcome through some form of intervention, for example, eating, exercise, talking or simply starting a new task. However, constant pressure that impacts on daily lifestyle needs to be supported through specified interventions that enable one to initially reduce pressure, manage effects of pressure and eventually to alleviate specific aspects of pressure.
Despite the issues, numerous strategies can help practitioners within their applied practices. The beauty and art of these strategies is that one size does not fit all. For example, where music and meditation may work for one individual, the use of self-talk and goal setting may work for another individual.
Practitioners need to be educated on the use of both cognitive and somatic strategies to help cope with pressure. Cognitive strategies are designed to enable one to overcome mental pressures that arise in the mind. An example of mental pressure could relate to self-doubt on the completion of actual tasks. On the other hand, somatic strategies are useful to overcome physical symptoms that occur in the body. An example of somatic pressure could be a high heart rate.
Let’s consider a practitioner who is suffering from nerves within their working practice. These nerves lead to panic and negative thoughts. Within this example, one would not be able to concentrate on the task in hand as they would be preoccupied with their own feelings. It would be essential at this point for the practitioner to identify triggers that causes this issue in the first place. On completion of this need analysis, it would be purposeful for the practitioner to select a strategy that would help alleviate nerves and negative thinking. Therefore, the use of deep breathing can support nervous tension and relieve panic. The strategies below all need to be practised consistently for them to make impact and have a useful effect.
Physical symptoms of suffering from too much pressure
- Physiological over arousal – where feelings of tension consume somatic symptoms
- Nerves – one suffers from apprehension and fear that dictate negative thoughts
- Feeling sick – nausea feelings created with negativity
- Butterflies – stomach feeling that makes one conscious of tingling sensation
- Tense muscles – that prevent movement in the body or feeling of tightness
- Increased heart rate – when one has high heart rate that is consistently elevated above 90 bpm
Mental symptoms of suffering from too much pressure
- Self-doubt – Negative feelings that consume thought patterns
- Low concentration – inability to concentrate on tasks in hand that lead to poor concentration levels
- Negative thoughts – one who operates with inability of thinking, for example, ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I feel hopeless’.
- Low self-confidence – the creation of self-doubt leads to feelings of worthlessness
- Inability to think clear – where direction and focus are not within the parameters of task completion
- Poor focus and direction – that leads to deficit of work completion or forgetting important tasks/meetings
Common strategies in combatting pressure
- Goal setting – the use of goal setting is useful in facilitating direction and focus
- Positive self-talk – enables on to change negative thought patterns
- Concentration skills – useful to maintain on task
- Yoga – enables mind and balance within thought and emotion
- Listening to music – helps on regulate mindset to enable it to regulate
- Imagery – picturing positive images on tasks
- Deep breathing – regulates the ability to breathe well and maintains equilibrium
- Relaxation skills – helps with muscle tension and control
One way to understand pressure is to identify specific trigger cues. Through identifying these trigger cues, one can start to become aware and take appropriate action. Having identified these triggers, practitioners can start to use the strategies for both cognitive and somatic aspects of pressure. A number of triggers lead to pressure. In the same context, there are a number of strategies to help overcome pressure.
The strategies provided need to be constantly practised for them to be successful. To build this practice further, it is recommended that one should rate the use of each strategy that they adapt and assess its impact after four weeks. The purpose of this practice is to make sure that practitioners in applied practice can assess the distance they have travelled in that time frame. For example, if one identifies a trigger as managing tasks it is considered that they set goals. Once these goals are set the practitioner needs to assess if they can manage tasks more effectively. Therefore, if their rating score has gone up from 2 to 4 they have travelled a good distance.
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Gobinder Gill teaches psychology and research methods.
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