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Anxious, frustrated, burnt out...maybe you're putting too much pressure on yourself?

Living in today’s social media driven age makes it difficult to not put pressure on ourselves.
Remember the Coca-Cola and Alka-Seltzer experiment in science class? Too much pressure results in an explosion. While we won’t physically explode, the feelings of being weighed down by societal and self-imposed pressure can lead to an emotional breakdown, blow up fight with a loved one, or even burnout.
To avoid a physical and mental crisis, perhaps we can try to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves! Although it’s easier said than done, we can learn to let things go. Be mindful that the change will probably not happen overnight; with some self-awareness, we can teach our self to stop trying to be so perfect all the time.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, in the mental health industry we have observed an increasing trend of over pressurization leading to burnout--with clients, family, and friends--even some therapists! With decision fatigue, changes, wearing multiple hats, it is very common to feel like you need to do it all and do it perfectly. Here are a few strategies to reorient yourself when you are feeling over pressurized:

8 ways to stop putting pressure on yourself

1. Remember: Nobody is Perfect

No matter how perfect others seem, they also deal with frustration, rejection, pain, disappointment, and loss (even if their social media posts tell you otherwise!)

Expectations we have of ourselves others won’t know--so ask yourself: does it really matter?


2. Kick Unrealistic Expectations to the Curb!

Keep expectations of yourself realistic and acknowledge what you are realistically capable of accomplishing (spoiler alert: you will not be the perfect cook, home school teacher, employee, boss, parent, spouse, family member, etc. simultaneously!)

It’s highly unlikely to undo a habit of 10 years by tomorrow. That kind of expectation often sets you up for failure.


3. Craft a Phrase

I am human. Nobody’s perfect. Do my best and leave the rest. I am good enough.

Often we can create a slogan or phrase that is targeted to our individual needs to counter our own putdowns or pressure. Next time we begin to put ourselves down for arriving 2 minutes late, we can stop and say our phrase.


4. Recognize that nothing is that important (AKA Don’t take everything so serious)

In the moment, the mistake at work or school can feel like we just ruined our future… But we can take a breath and ask ourselves: Is this a life or death situation? Is the mistake so big that I will be fired? Will I remember this in a year? Let’s say 99% of the time, the answer will probably be no. Just taking a deep breath and asking those questions can help put things in perspective.


5. Be Present

Anxiety is often about overthinking the future → thinking of every outcome which leads to fearing the future. We can find more peace by being in the moment.


6. Accept Mistakes and Failures

Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. It is simply part of life.

Try this: Not label the situation with extreme wording such a “this is a life ruining event”, but redefine it as a way for change & growth-“this feels difficult right now, but I know that facing & working through it will help me grow”

We can accept, learn, let it go, and move forward


7. Take a Mental Health Break

Do something we enjoy, go for a walk, stay-cation, ask for help, take a few deep breaths, do a random act of kindness, listen to calming music, read a book you love, sip tea, try a new recipe, take a nap, play w/ pet, journal, light a candle, draw/color, dance, stretch, etc.


8. Show Yourself Compassion

Imagine a friend talking to us the way we talk to ourselves--chances are if they did that, we would quickly stop spending time with that friend!

Accept ourselves openly & show ourselves some compassion… are we this critical of others?

Only one of these strategies may ring true to you and that’s great; we don’t need to do them all at once! Use that strategy to stop pressurization in its tracks--we can all use a little extra grace--especially in difficult seasons.