The A Word: Under Pressure?

The best view comes after the hardest climb

Apologies, it’s been a while; I’ve been incredibly busy. In the past, when anyone asked me what I was busy with I used to stay “stuff”.  So, to sum up the last 7 weeks since my last blog, I’ve been busy with stuff 😊.  We’ve also been on a 3-week road trip through France which was amazing.  Since posting our pics on Instagram and Facebook I’ve had loads of messages about the route we took and the places we visited so hopefully my replies have been helpful.

This month I’m going to talk about stress and working under pressure and there’s a good reason behind it.  Since Jamie and I retired earlier this year so many people have commented on the change they have seen in me, especially close friends and family.  Apparently I look so much more relaxed, happy, contented, at peace, and I can honestly say that I do.  I appreciate events will come along that will change this and my chronic pain still has an impact on my daily life but overall, I think these lovely comments are justified.  I’ve also given some thought about the reason why and came up with my own conclusions.

Throughout my working career, like many of you, I’ve lived my life under constant pressure.  During my earlier working days, it was balancing home life and work life and latterly, for the last 20 plus years, I’ve worked in jobs that, whilst rewarding, came with huge amounts of accountability and responsibility.  I’ve always taken my work seriously and undoubtedly put myself under a lot of pressure to succeed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my career and have some superb memories but it also comes at a price. 

I’ve worked with colleagues who’ve mastered great skills for working under pressure, they’ve been able to maintain a level-headedness when urgent matters arise instead of getting stressed out and overwhelmed.  Whilst I had coping mechanisms and to the outside world appeared to be in control, inside I would feel high levels of stress that would affect me even after my working day had finished. No matter where you work, there will undoubtedly be occasions where you’ll work in high-pressure situations, so I thought I’d share some of the tactics a great coach taught me in the later years of my career that not only helped with work but in all aspects of life.

My first “go to” is a technique for solving problems.   It’s a coping strategy that involves learning to take specific steps when approaching a challenge. These steps include defining the problem, writing down potential solutions, ranking the solutions, developing an action plan, and then putting the chosen solution to the test.  This shouldn’t be an essay otherwise you won’t do it.  Ideally it should take 5-10 and it definitely works.

Secondly, because I’ve always lacked confidence, reappraising negative thoughts is my next “go to”. When you come across a stressful situation or find yourself in a high-pressure environment, a lot of us develop a mental filter in which we automatically interpret situations through a negative lens. I would often find myself jumping to negative conclusions with little or no evidence to back me up.  My coach taught me to reappraise negative thoughts, treat them as theories instead of facts and consider other possibilities. I still regularly practice this skill and it does help to reduce negative emotions in response to stress.

My third “go to” is yoga and mindfulness and is the one that works best.  It’s something I’ve only recently taken up during lockdown and its wonderful, I can’t recommend it enough.  If my overactive, confused and complicated mind can benefit I’m sure yours can too.  Mastering mindfulness helps you to pay attention to the present moment with curiosity, openness, and acceptance.  Stress is a crazy feeling, it can be exacerbated when we spend time ruminating about the past, worrying about the future, or engaging in self-criticism. Through my yoga and mindfulness, I’m learning to train my brain to break these harmful habits.

Hopefully these takeaways are useful and before I go, I thought I would let everyone know I’ve a very big birthday coming up in a couple of weeks.  I’ve reached the ripe old age of 60 and the most exciting thing about this event is that I qualify for free prescriptions.  Now, if Southend United were still in the football league I could also buy an OAP concession ticket but unfortunately they’re not.  I could also have a free bus pass if I lived in London but unfortunately I don’t but free prescriptions are a big deal for me.

As you all know, I write my blog to raise awareness for autoimmune disease. Since being diagnosed with AS in 2015, I’ve bought an annual prescription card as the cost of my medication is so high.  I’m fortunate as I’ve been able to continue to work, so paying for my prescriptions wasn’t a great hardship.  However, there are many people with these debilitating autoimmune diseases who are unable to work and suffer great financial hardship; I read incredibly sad stories every day.  Its not always easy to find financial help as strict criteria is in place to qualify for disability benefits.  NASS (National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society) is campaigning to help make it easier so fingers crossed they’ll make progress to help those with this debilitating disease.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.  I can’t go without mentioning the weather 😊.  I saw a great sign yesterday which made me giggle

Due to high temperatures, we will not be accepting money out of your bra…  My first thought was “who wears a bra in this heat”?

Until next time xxx

Published by meadandrea

Blogger, writer, author, love to travel, photographer

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