How Leaders Can Remain Calm Under Pressure and Prevent Emotional Hijacking
In the previous blog post I shared with you 3 Ways Leaders Can Remain Calm Under Stress. As promised, here are three other ways for leaders (and others) to remain calm under pressure and stress and prevent themselves from getting emotionally hijacked and making poor decisions or taking actions that they will later regret.
Focus on purposeful breathing. As we highlighted earlier this month in the blog post on 3 More Ways For Leaders To Reduce Stress At Work, pausing to focus on deep, rhythmic breathing will help to rapidly calm both your body and your brain. As soon as your body starts to send stress signals (shortness of breath, sweaty palms, churning in the gut, overwhelming sensations in your mind) hit the pause button. Literally.
Through purposeful breathing you can quickly calm your nervous system and regain control over your thoughts and emotions. Purposeful breathing can be done anywhere in the office — at your desk, in a meeting surrounded by others, while walking to or from a meeting, or during a quick visit outside to engulf some fresh air and a bit of sunshine
Reframe your perspective. It is a two-way, circular interaction. Our thoughts can increase our stress, and stress can impact our thoughts. No wonder things can spiral out of control so quickly.
While you cannot always control your circumstances, you can always control how you respond emotionally and cognitively (provided you do not grant control to stress and negative thoughts). For any stressful situation, start by putting things into perspective. Then ask yourself, “how can I handle this situation without over-reacting emotionally and with the full resources of my cognitive faculties?”
Just asking this question confirms that you are purposefully remaining in control of your response to the given circumstances and situation. Now, list how you truly want to respond emotionally, either positively or neutrally. Note the phrase being used here: truly want to respond. It is not about how you might feel you want to react. It is about how you truly want to respond.
Next, list what is wrong with the situation and what are the possible solutions or fixes. And remember to keep breathing, rhythmically and deeply. This too shall pass.
Tap into your support system. Very rarely do stressful challenges need to be handled solely and without help. Often, however, challenges become stressful because we do not have all the skills or resources to deal with them by ourselves and we are reluctant to ask for help.
This is where seeking the help, advice, and support of colleagues, peers, friends, and family members kicks in. A key to remaining calm in times of unexpected stress is knowing that help abounds in the form of your professional and personal support systems and networks. We all have weaknesses, and often the strengths and skills we need to complement our shortfalls are found within others.
What other personal tips and techniques do you have for remaining calm under pressure and stress? Please share these in the comments section below. Thanks in advance!
This article is partially excerpted from my award-winning book Better Decisions Better Thinking Better Outcomes: How to go from Mind Full to Mindful Leadership, available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. The book is the recipient of a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association for bringing “a comprehensive plan of action for improving life through recognizing decision-making patterns that don’t serve us well, don’t enrich our lives, and don’t bring us to our goals and dreams.”