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How to Keep Your Cool Under Pressure

Does your mind freeze up before big-stakes meetings and presentations? Have you ever shaken, stammered, or sweat when you were nervous? While nerves are normal and can, in fact, give you the adrenaline boost you need to perform, too much stress can paralyze you.

So, what’s the secret to keeping cool under pressure? The answer lies in your brain itself: specifically, your prefrontal cortex. Your prefrontal cortex is responsible for your stress response. Thankfully, your prefrontal cortex is easier to regulate than you may think! No advanced science classes required.

Don’t let your nerves stop you from accomplishing your goals! Empower yourself to stay calm under pressure with the help of these three simple but effective brain-training tricks:

Take Care of Your Brain: If your brain is drained, you will have a harder time taking control of stress and other strong hormonal responses when faced with pressure. Give yourself at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Eat a balanced, low-sugar diet to help regulate your mood and energy levels. When you are well-rested and well-fed, you will be more alert and in better control of your brain.

Own Your Reality: Even though you may think you «should» behave or feel a certain way, remember: you are in control of your own reality. Even if your emotions feel overwhelming, you still have a say in the way you feel. By practicing mindfulness, for example, you can take on stress whenever it occurs and minimize the negative effects it has on you. This process may sound complicated, but self-regulating your stress levels is simpler than you may think! The first step is simple: breathe. When you begin to feel yourself shrink under pressure, focus solely on your breathing pattern. Push yourself to take deep, rhythmic breaths. This will slow your blood flow and heart rate. In turn, this will calm down the rush of chemicals going through your body and quiet the over-activity in your prefrontal cortex.

Remember Your Goals: Growth often occurs under pressure. If you have a dream, you will have to work to realize it. Remind yourself of what you are working toward. Visualize what it will be like to have the professional and financial success you seek. Your dedication to your goals can help you steel your resolve and focus on mastering the challenges at hand.

Feeling the pressure? Our experts can help. Learn more about other beneficial habits at our blog at