How to Stay Calm Under Pressure

One thing I've been told over and over both in my personal and professional life is that I always seem calm. The funny thing is that I'm often told this during situations when I have been dealing with managing stress head-on. As a classically-trained violinist since age five who used to do a lot of auditions, I have learned a few tricks for how to remain calm under pressure (or at least to look calm on the outside).

1. Have a mantra or special sequence that gets you to chill out every time. Ever since I was little, I've had a mantra, a repeated word, that helps to slow my breathing and calm me down if I'm panicked, nervous or stressed. When I say it either inside or as a whisper, I can actually feel the tension diminish dramatically. Before a performance or job interview, I say my mantra, sit in a quiet place, and breathe deeply for a couple minutes. I also find that doing arm stretches helps to loosen me up and makes me feel more energized.

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2. Smile. Sometimes the only thing you need to do to calm down is smile. Use a photo as your phone lock screen or desktop image that will instantly make you grin. I always have a photo from my travels on my computer and a photo of one of my pets on my phone lock screen for that reason. If you're going through a stressful time at work, smiling will also help others in your office relax.

3. Get enough sleep. This is probably the hardest thing for me because sometimes it can be difficult to shut my brain off and fall asleep if I'm stressed. I always have Sleepytime tea, lavender essential oil, and melatonin on hand for those times I need extra help. Prioritize sleep during stressful times.

4. Think about a time you were nervous or stepped out of your comfort zone. When I look back on my life, some of the moments that made me the most anxious beforehand ended up being the best. When I was 22, I bought a one-way ticket to the Czech Republic, with a month-long stint working in the French Pyrenees beforehand. I knew some people thought I was crazy, but I had traveled abroad alone a few times before and knew it was the time in my life to do it. I remember the night before I left, I felt like I was making a huge mistake. Turns out, it was one of the best things I've ever done.

Now, I'm curious to hear from you: What works for you when you need to remain calm under pressure?

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