5 Lessons on Resilience and Thriving Under Pressure

Stress is one of the worst things for our health. Most of us can attest to that without knowing any of the statistics. We’ve all felt the effects of stress in our lives. Some of the most intense stress comes from the professional world. Our careers can bring enormous pressure to succeed, impress, and perform. Regardless of how many times we go through it, the cycle always repeats.

Still, it’s possible to thrive under pressure. In fact, the most successful people know how to do just that. They channel workplace stress into something transcendent and useful, something that results in greatness.

If you’re not there yet, though...what do you do? Learning to be resilient in the workplace and learning to thrive under pressure often takes experience. These tips, however, should give you a solid place to start.


5 Lessons on Thriving Under Pressure in the Workplace

1) Threat VS Challenge

So much of our success or failure in any stressful situation is determined by our mental state and our initial response. As we enter a stressful situation (whether it’s a presentation, project, or another endeavor) our brains respond and perceive that stress in one of two ways: threat or challenge. When seeing the stress as a threat, we go on the defensive and are put at a disadvantage. It’s like the stress is seen as a danger, and a response similar to fight-or-flight occurs. We get sweaty palms, increased heart rate, tension, and nausea—you name it.

Generally speaking, we don’t make the best or most rational decisions when encountering a threat. These psychological threats hurt our performance.

When perceiving stress as a challenge, on the other hand, the response to stress is more like that of a skilled athlete determined to win a game. Concentration spikes, heart rate increases, and we have more control over our emotions. This challenge mode helps us more effectively handle stress.

From the get-go, this psychological response to stress can make or break us.

2) Maintain a positive response.

Negative self-talk is a saboteur when it comes to stressful situations. Studies have revealed that the more we try not to think about something, the more we actually trick ourselves into doing just that by putting energy into avoiding it. When it comes to professional success, the energy we spend worrying about what could go wrong or all the ways we might fail is ultimately not only unproductive, but they actively detract from that success. You may even undermine yourself without realizing it.

Instead, approach your stressor with that challenge mindset. You can conquer, you can win!

3) Don’t do it alone.

Stress is defeated by support. No matter what level you are operating on, you can conquer stress through the help of a team. Even if you are an entrepreneur or freelancer dealing with a project alone, simply having a network of support that you can turn to for emotional and moral support in stressful times can go a long way to ensuring your success. If you’re struggling, don’t feel as though you need to hide it.

Instead, opt to allow yourself open honesty and collaboration. Sharing the burden will relieve pressure and sharing in success will be rewarding.

4) Mitigate other stressors.

When in a stressful work situation, do what you can to eliminate unnecessary stress. For instance, a lack of organization. If your organization is making it difficult to complete tasks effectively, you may need to stop and rectify the issue so that it doesn’t continue to be a problem that adds to the stress. If a system isn’t working, change it. There’s no need to bang your head on the wall when something isn’t working!

5) Understand that stress isn’t the enemy.

None of us like stress. We don’t like how it makes us feel and oftentimes, the outcomes of stress aren’t favorable. Therefore, it’s easy to associate stress with the enemy. Stress is bad. Right? Not necessarily. A healthy level of stress paired with the right response is actually a good thing! It can keep up motivated to move forward and strive to be better at whatever it is we do.

We know that it is possible to thrive under pressure and grow into better professionals. Through our trials, we can emerge not only unscathed but refined. It’s that that we must hope for. Use stress as a motivator and an opportunity for growth rather than something just to suffer through.

When has stress actually helped you succeed? Share your experience in the comments.