Welcome to our ‘Business Turnaround Tips’ series. In this post, I want to focus on one of the greatest skills you can master – how to keep calm under pressure. One of the hardest things to do in a business turnaround is to keep calm under pressure. In a turnaround situation, everything that can go wrong probably will. Hopefully, you’ll discover practical tips on how to achieve Zen-like mastery, reduce your stress and keep calm no matter what.
Are you ready? Let’s dive right in!
Get Enough Sleep
The first tip on how to keep calm under pressure actually starts the night before. The world seems to be changing its views on sleep. We once lived in a society that boasted about how little sleep they had. Whereas now, research is showing that lack of sleep actually hinders productivity, logical and creative thought and is likened to people driving drunk!
Lack of sleep is not cool and it’s not clever. Stop it. You’re not impressing anyone. We all get cranky when we’re tired. When you’re tired, you tend to be short with people and snap. That’s not calm. That’s stress. Stop trying to be Superman and get your kip.
I know you’re probably wanting more deep and advanced advice for business turnaround tips, but you’d be surprised how many people this has helped.
How much sleep do scientists recommend? The studies show anything between 6-8 hours is recommended. However, it does depend on your body, age, personal situation. Some people simply can’t function on 6 hours. If that’s the case then work your schedule to ensure that you get your required number of hours sleep.
Have A Solid Morning Routine
When I’ve coached senior professionals from Executives to Directors, one of the common things I do with them is to establish a morning routine. Quite often, the people I coach will get up in a panic because they’ve overslept, then they rush to get ready, fight traffic and get to work on time. Not to mention some have the added pressure of kids and pets.
That’s not the way to start the day. Your stress levels are already high before you’ve even walked through the office doors.
In his book, ‘The 5 AM Club’, author Robin Sharma talks about the ultimate way to start your day.
“Own your morning, elevate your life,” is the mantra of this book.
The book talks about rising early (0500) and employing something called the 20/20/20 Formula:
- 20 minutes of exercise
- 20 minutes of meditating/journalling/praying
- 20 minutes of self-development
These are more guidelines than rules. The principle, however, is to get up early, do some exercise to feed your health. Then do some sort of meditation, journaling or praying to feed your soul. Finally, read or listen to an audiobook to feed your mind.
I have been a member of the 5 AM Club for a while now and it has changed my life. By having a solid morning routine like this, you centre yourself.
Exercise is proven to release endorphins (the feel-good chemical), it reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) and promotes brain activity. Why wouldn’t you exercise?!
Whether you do this in the morning, on your lunch break or at the end of the day, do something! Move! Your stress levels will greatly reduce.
My advice is to try and do a form of exercise in the morning so you get those endorphins flooding your brain first thing. By doing so, you will arrive at work in a better mood and have clarity of thought.
Write Morning Pages
As per the 5 AM Club, one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety is to write. Now I know that some may feel this is a bit of a new age, hippy kind of thing, but we can’t ignore the science. Numerous studies have shown that the act of writing your thoughts down can greatly reduce stress.
There are many ways to write things down. Some people use a diary or a sort of journal. My preferred method is something called ‘Morning Pages’.
Taken from the book, ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, Morning Pages are a simple way to journal.
How To Do Morning Pages
As the name suggests, you write in the morning. However this must be done without any distraction – no phones, devices or people distracting you.
The rule is you have to write 3 pages.
What are you writing?
Stream of consciousness.
That’s right. Whatever pops in your head. It doesn’t have to make sense or be neat. Just write.
What you’ll find is that your thoughts are often jumbled and have no sense of connection. However, after a while, you will stumble upon things that are causing you anxiety or stress.
By capturing these on paper, it helps you to articulate your feelings and get control of the situation.
I have personally seen the benefits of my mood and stress by doing Morning Pages. Because I do this in the morning, I have centred myself, got control of whatever is bothering me and I have a plan of how to deal with it. My communication is better. Staff members have thought I would blow my lid when something went wrong. However, I didn’t. Instead, I was calm under pressure and I led them.
Again, in terms of business turnaround tips, this is one of the most common bits of advice I give to people who can’t keep calm in a high-pressure meeting situation or general day-to-day.
- Take a slow deep breath through the nose
- Hold for 5 seconds
- Slowly exhale through the mouth
- Repeat 3-5 times
Do it now. Honestly, you’ll feel calmer. By doing this exercise, you will slow your heart rate and obtain a sort of centre.
You may have heard of the Fidget-Spinner craze a few years back. The interesting science behind it is that some people need to fidget. It helps relax them and actually, some studies have shown that fidgeting aides thinking.
If you’re like me, then get yourself a fidget widget! (I like the sound of that).
This is my personal favourite fidget weapon of choice. They’re really cheap, some are small and discreet. If you need to fidget, then fidget! It can help you de-stress.
Go For A Walk
Sometimes, we can be in a stressful conversation. If you feel that your anger/stress levels are rising then politely excuse yourself and go for a walk. Walking is a form of exercise. If you have a big office, then walk the floor. If you’re able to, go outside and get some fresh air. Walking will still give you the endorphin release you need to calm yourself and gain some clarity of thought.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this part of the ‘Business Turnaround Tips’ series. The above advice may be simple, but truthfully, how many of us actually do it? As I said, I’ve coached many senior people on the above and it has not only helped them keep calm under pressure, it has changed their life. If you were to only adopt one thing out of the above, I would advocate you join the 5 AM Club. That way you get the benefit of exercise and a solid routine. Go ahead – do something!