How to Reduce Stress

Wishing for a magic solution to reduce stress? Yeah, me too! Fact is, stress reduction takes some effort. But you can do it. 

I certainly needed to learn! I had been challenged with a situation that is keeping me on my toes. If you’ve ever had to administer eye drops to a dog, you may understand my pain. My sweet Bumblebee is certainly helping her momma to face a critical life lesson here.

Stay cool under pressure – the journey

About a month ago, my adorable Boxer, Bumblebee, tore her cornea. I have no idea how. Supposedly it’s a common injury in Boxers. She certainly gets excited very quickly, springing to her feet if a leaf blows the wrong way, so it doesn’t surprise me that perhaps in one of her spirited leaps to the front window, her cornea may have been surprised, too, by the quick opening of her eye.

The vet gave me eye drops to use for a month to see if she would heal. Well, she didn’t. So, surgery was the only option. Wednesday she underwent corneal surgery to repair the injury. It went well, and she will heal nicely so long as I successfully get an eye drop in her eye every eight hours for the next three weeks.

The health of her eye depends on my family’s ability to aid in getting those eye drops to land in her eye. Gulp.

That reality scares the you-know-what out of me. 

life lessons learned

Since the surgery, I am happy to report that we have successfully administered the prescribed eye drops on schedule. However, this is not to say this task has been a walk in the park. Bumblebee acts like we’re going to kill her whenever that bottle appears.

I feel I’ve aged thirty years in the past three days! This is torture for us all. When that eight hour approaches, my stomach starts to flip flop, and my blood pressure begins its rapid ascent to levels that cannot be good.

Three weeks… yikes.

It’s something we need to do. There is no other option. We must come to the foot of that hill we’re dreading to climb, and do what it takes to climb it.

Three days into this climb, the stress is not calming to safe levels. We will not let that stop us. I am determined to master the art to stay cool under pressure. I am going to view this as a wonderful opportunity to grow and turn my weakness into a strength. Heck, if I can dive seventy-five feet under water, I can drop medication into Bumblebee’s eye. (This diving reference is my mantra whenever I have to face a difficult situation!)

Life is tossing me a lesson that I need to learn. Simple as that. And, until I learn the lesson, I’ll likely find that same challenge appear and reappear.

I realized something this morning as she fought us for ten minutes. My frustration only aided in escalating hers. My fear of failing her only added to her fears. What I am bringing to the situation is catchy. She latches onto whatever I am feeling, and mirrors it. So, in that moment, I stopped, and just breathed. Within moments, she relaxed and trusted us.

Will this work every single time? With Bumblebee it’s always an adventure. I never know what will happen from second to second. But, I am reassured that entering the situation with anything but a calm mind is never going to serve either one of us in any good way.

cool under pressureShe is scared right now, and looking to us for direction. We can choose to lead her down a path that is full of anxiety or one that is layered in humor and love.

My big takeaway three days into this twenty-one day journey: it’s all about the attitude. I have a choice how I react. My goal is to stay cool under pressure. So, the obvious choice here is to bring humor and love along our journey and leave anxiety at the foot of that hill.

I believe in taking on this attitude, we will walk up that hill with little effort, carrying only the desire to get to the top where we can rest and enjoy the openness of what’s next in our life. This will pass. This is only temporary. We can gain strength from each step we put consciously in front of the other, and look forward to the reward of its residual gifts. If we can make it up that hill, we can make it up any other terrain. It’s just a matter of focusing on the end goal, and using humor to get us through.

We all have these kinds of challenging situations that land in our lives. Some of us are stressed about our work, relationships, finances, difficult decisions, health issues, etc. The next time you need to stay cool under pressure, try to remember the reward of making it through and how great you’re going to feel. If that doesn’t work, I’ve researched a few more ideas.

How to Stay Cool Under Pressure:

Visualize Success: See yourself facing the challenge with confidence and great effectiveness. Run that scenario through your mind over and over until you feel empowered, then go get it done.

Acquire the Tools: Show up prepared. If it’s a job interview and you’re lacking knowledge on how to put your best foot forward, hire someone to teach you or find the right resources. If you are facing a health challenge, surround yourself with positive, loving people who will support and encourage you on your journey towards a healthy recovery. If you’re dealing with a spirited dog afraid of a little eye drop bottle, arm yourself with treats, a muzzle for safety, blankies and lots of loving praise.

Gather Information: If you’re about to give a presentation to a large audience and your knees are giving out from underneath you, ask the audience some questions. This will take the pressure off you as you listen to their needs. Understanding what’s at stake can help redefine the challenge into something more manageable. 

Know When to Take a Break: If you’re facing an extremely stressful encounter, it’s okay to stop, breathe and gather yourself. Nothing good will come from a mood spiraling out of control. Take the time to regroup and redirect your attitude.

Focus only on Facts: When emotions are piqued, it’s hard to make a good decision. If people are relying on you to make a good call, block out everything else but the immediate facts. Leave panic and emotions out of it by zeroing in on only those elements that are critical to that moment in time.

Over to you: How do you stay cool under pressure?

Wishing you the very best,

Suzie Carr, novelist

9 replies
  1. Amy
    Amy says:

    Dang. Do you have any idea how powerful it is to watch someone navigate through difficulty, especially when the emotional investment is deep?
    I suspect you do. How do I stay cool under pressure? Nothing is coming to mind at the moment; still absorbing the wisdom in what you just wrote.

    Reply
  2. Anya
    Anya says:

    I like to think I stay cool under pressure. I was raised that everyone else’s needs came before mine, that I was to help others before I thought about myself. This is not a poor me statement, but rather it sort of allowed me to put what and how I was feeling onto the back burner and deal with the situation at hand. It is sort of an autopilot. As I have aged and matured (like fine wine and cheese) I have learned to temper the autopilot with compassion and inner strength. Always a work in progress.

    Reply
    • Suzie Carr
      Suzie Carr says:

      You’re awesome Anya! You are like fine wine and cheese! I like your thinking here. Make it about others, and when one does, the result is that much more powerful and meaningful. Thank you, friend!

      Reply
  3. Victoria Avilan
    Victoria Avilan says:

    I understand your frustration. My Mocha has to have 4 kinds of eyedrops every 12 hour for the rest of her life. The eyedrops are very expensive and not one drop should be lost in a fight. She’d go under the table and we couldn’t get her out. I learned to call her with yummy sounds and give her a piece of meat or cheese before and after every drop. Bribing works. Yes, she is overweight, but we get those drops in.

    Reply
  4. Emily Skye
    Emily Skye says:

    Ha – totally relate to this – learning to negotiate with our highly neurotic (almost as much as me) and utterly lovable (even more than me) rescue border collie this last few years has been a wonderful challenge. My best I think was getting him to wear compulsory muzzle on crossing back to UK from France, AFTER muzzle had been implicated in my not at all appreciated attempt to tend to his foot injury when he had pulled out a claw the day before (he had punched me in the face with the muzzle!). And yes as you say, breathing, staying calm, being absolutely clear that you ARE going to do this smoothly because it MUST happen is a great thing to practice with your teacher dog. Recently he and I had very smooth muzzle and vaccination visit to vet – phew.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *