How to Show Grace Under Pressure

Awesome Advice

Q: I hate how easily flustered I get. How can I become one of those people who thrives under pressure?

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A: I know the people you’re talking about. Nothing seems to get to them. They never have a mini-freak-out or break down crying because some seemingly insurmountable obstacle is in their way. How do they do it?

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Before I get to some tips, know that everyone’s body responds to stress a little differently. Some are quick to tears, some aren’t. Don’t punish yourself if your body finds an outlet for all the stimuli it’s taking in.

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Stress takes many different forms: work, school, parents, friends, etc. So here’s some advice that I believe is universal: stay in the moment. Be present, wherever you are. Don’t get caught up in what’s coming in five minutes, a week, or a year. That’s when matters begin to get overwhelming. Because you can’t deal with what’s in front of you if you’re already telling yourself about all the ways it can go wrong.

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For example, if you’re stressing over an upcoming test and start to feel that hysteria rising, break your preparation into manageable chunks. If you’re re-reading the chapter, do that, and concentrate on it fully. When you’re done, you can start thinking about making flashcards. (And don’t forget: sleep and sustenance are also un-skippable test prep stages!)

This tactic takes practice, so work on it! And though I can’t promise you’ll always be cool as a cucumber, you’ll learn to process the more challenging parts of life more efficiently.

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If you need advice, ask your question in the comments, and it may be featured in an upcoming column.