Do you feed off pressure?

January 25, 2010

Running feet - redToday is Monday – the beginning of a whole new week.

I feel like a runner at the start line. Anything can happen now. The phone will ring or an email will come in, and I’ll be off – pounding at the keyboard, draining the coffee pot, feeling the rush of excitement, and soon…. bending under the weight of the stress.

Does this sound familiar to you?

I’m one of those people who like pressure. I feel I work better when I’m under the gun. I feel alive, productive, in demand.

But I also know that it could have dire consequences for my health.

The adrenaline is like a drug

I asked Gerrianne Clare, a life coach, what she says to people like me who thrive on pressure and colliding deadlines.

She tells me that I’m not alone, and that it’s the adrenaline that gets me moving and on task. “But being under pressure releases coritsol, the stress hormone.” It leaches into my system and can lead to anxiety and depression – or worse.

To relieve the pressure, Gerrianne’s advice is to impose my own timeline on myself. She suggests setting the intention that “there’s more work coming your way, and you need to get yourself prepared for that.”

So, let’s say I have an article due in a week. I set a timeline that I’m going to have this article written by today at 5 pm.  I’ve put myself under pressure and got the adrenaline pumping – without the stress that goes with it.

As part of the exercise, Gerrianne tells me to “Take an intentional breath at the beginning, and set my intention on high that I will achieve my goal within that time segment.” During this time, I am to be fully focused. I don’t think about anything else.

“When finished,” she says, “take a deep breath and acknowledge what you have accomplished.”

I can imagine the feeling of personal satisfaction that comes with completing a task within a set time frame. I am free to move on to the next project or take a walk if I feel like it. And I’m not continually pushing things dangerously close to their deadlines because I’m oversubscribed.

That’s one small step for productivity…one giant step for keeping stress at bay and taking better care of myself.