You’ve no doubt experienced it many times. You hit a wall. Suddenly, fear surges through your whole body like a tidal wave. How do you react?

Your palms leak sweat. Your heart races. Anxiety rises and takes over your mind. You must keep going but you feel sick, foggy-brained and depleted.

How can you find the strength to overcome the stress and perform under such pressure?

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You can!

Coping with a tough situation takes both understanding and vigorous training. Whether facing a critical moment in an athletic competition, or worrying about your job, relationship or your health, you will at many times feel overwhelmed. It’s inevitable and part of our human experience.

How to perform under pressure?

It is important to understand that stress and anxiety cause tensions that can shut down your ability to clearly perceive reality. Ultimately such pressures can compromise your immune system and your body’s ability to perform.

Just as you train for peak performance, you must also train for performing under pressure.

Here are four basic ways to calm your nerves, have more energy and maintain your balance and performance abilities.

1. Be aware of any negative thoughts and stop them in their tracks

Your internal chatter may be undermining your strength. Develop a positive statement that fully resonates with you and one you could utter at gunpoint (hopefully that will never be tested!).

It should become so ingrained that it’s an automatic “reset” of your thinking.

For example: I was in a singles tennis competition against a left-handed player who was 20 years younger. We were playing at night on red clay. I was struggling miserably until I recognized my self-talk was laced with thoughts such as: “I hate this.”  “I’m too tired.” “I can’t possibly win.” “I’m no good under lights at night.”

performing under pressure_2As soon as I realized my destructive inner dialogue, I changed it and began reciting: “I’m a person of great value. I’m an expression of the divine.”  My performance transformed. About 2.5 hours later, I walked away victorious!

Every day, practice one or two positive statements that buoy you up. 

When you’re in a crunch period, the assertions will bubble up automatically. They will allow you to dismantle the pressure and connect to your power center!

2. Monitor your sleep and make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours

Adequate rest is essential for proper functioning of body and mind. The average adult is sleep deprived and suffers brain fog, confusion, poor judgment and poor performance. Without enough sleep, you may find it hard to cope with challenges.

Develop a consistent sleep routine to encourage healthy sleep patterns.

Invest in one of the newest electronic gadgets that helps you track your sleep to make sure you’re getting enough. I particularly like the Viviofit from Garmin because it actually tracks how many hours of sleep are “deep” and how many are “light.”

For myself, if my “light” hours are more numerous than my “deep” on a given night, I’ll modify the challenges I take on that day so I don’t put myself in a pressure cooker.

performing under pressure_33. Avoid sugary foods and drinks

Sugar has no nutritional value and can actually contribute to stress and anxiety.

The feel-good dopamines released from consuming sugar can change brain function, cause fatigue, shaking, tension and increase worry and fear.

Research has shown that sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine. So if you’re hooked on sugar, you may find yourself less tolerant of managing those stressful moments.

Read labels — especially energy drinks — and try avoiding sugars as much as possible.

Sadly, sugar is hidden under disguises such high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, glucose, cane juice, dehydrated cane juice, dextrin, maltodextrin and corn syrup. If you have a sweet tooth, use local honey or plain stevia which is from a natural plant.

4. Schedule quiet moments each day as part of your training

As humans, we weren’t meant to be at high alert every minute of every day. Unfortunately today’s lifestyle barrages us with non-stop information and distracts us continually.

It is critical to pause for a time-out at least twice per day to “relax”.

performing under pressure_4By relaxing, I’m not suggesting having a drink, watching television or reading. I suggest you take what I call a “productivity pause” to be quiet for a few minutes.

Give yourself permission to sit still.

Close your eyes, take a few deep sighs, and let go of all thinking and doing for one to five minutes. A big exhalation actually signals the body to relax.

To access my free audio – contact me on my Expert page.  Listen upon awakening in the morning and once later in the day (for a total of 6 minutes!)  By taking brief mental pauses, you refresh your mind and body in productive ways.

It can help you think more clearly, feel more energized, function more effectively and help you perform more seamlessly.

Perform under pressure

To be fully prepared for performing under pressure, you’ll want to focus specifically on mastering exercises #1 and #4. Practice both every day, multiple times a day if possible.

It takes 21 to 90 days to form new habits. Therefore you need to flex the brain’s neural pathways for these patterns to become your automatic default and pump up your performance potential.

If you’re ready to commit to a 21-day coaching plan, consider using my “Stress-Anxiety Buster” at WatchFit – coming soon. This plan will train you for excellence!

Connect with Expert Peggy Sealfon

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