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6 strategies for coping with increased pressure

As your career level increases, so does the amount of pressure you have to deal with.  If you don’t deal with it correctly, it’ll transform into stress, which is incredibly bad for your health and performance. Successful accountants, lawyers, and consultants have devised a number of ways to cope with the demands of their jobs. In this article, extracted from my book Poised for Partnership, I look at six of the best ways to stop pressure becoming overwhelming.

tired manager at workIncrease activity

The human body is designed to be active.  Our ancestors easily walked 10km every day in their search for shelter and food.  How many top professionals would be able to do that now?  And yet, it is also just what we need. Physical activity not only exercises our muscles – 30 mins a day can reduce the risk of heart attacks – it also stimulates our bodies to produce serotonin, a chemical that enhances brain power and helps us to think more clearly. At a basic level, our bodies equate activity with needing to think fast.    That’s why taking a walk to “clear your head” does exactly that.

Serotonin is the precursor to the production of melatonin – which helps us achieve deep sleep. Proper deep sleep cycles refresh the body and the brain, meaning we wake up fully recharged and able to face another day full of vim and vigour.

It’s a virtuous circle – the more we exercise, the more energy we have.

Exercise after work

Our bodies come hard wired for fight or flight.  When we are facing a dangerous situation, our bodies produce adrenaline, which helps us to respond faster and harder than we could from a relaxed state.  A high pressured job might not be life threatening, but our bodies still react in the same way, by producing adrenaline.  That adrenaline needs to be used, so climbing into the car and driving home to sit down is not the best way to unwind at the end of the day – however tempting it may sound. Getting into the habit of exercising after work will dissipate the adrenaline built up over the day, and help us relax properly when we do get home.

Take regular holidays

I don’t mean go away to a white sandy beach every time, but we all need to have proper breaks from work. Even when staying at home, be firm about not answering work emails during time off.  Our bodies and our minds need proper rest and recuperation to be able to deal with the pressures when we are back in the office.

Have a life outside work

It is possible! There’s even a book on How To Make Partner And Still Have A Life.  Spending time outside work doing something we enjoy with people we genuinely like, and who make us feel both relaxed and energised, will feed our souls in a way that work simply cannot. Having a meaningful existence outside work carries us through the hard days when we wonder if it’s really worth the candle.

Eat healthily

We all do it – reach for a coffee or sugary snack to give us the boost to keep going. Yet, doing so can actually make our stress and tiredness worse!   Foods that are known to increase stress levels include:

  • anything containing caffeine
  • fast food and takeaways
  • alcohol
  • sugary drinks

These types of food and drink actually increase blood sugar levels, meaning it’s even harder to relax and get the proper recharging we need before the next day.    Eating properly – well balanced, nutritional, and regular meals – is the best way to stay healthy and stress-free.

Lean on your support team

I have written before about the importance of a great support team.  When things are tough, use them!  A talk with your sponsoring partner, mentor, or external coach may be just what you need to get things back into balance.

Pressure is part and parcel of a high flying job. It’s what most of us need to drive our achievements. But we all need to control it and know how to turn it off before it starts affecting our health and ability to perform.  Being resilient at dealing with pressure will be a key factor in your long term success as partner.

Heather Townsend helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. She is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking’, Poised for partnership and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’, and ‘The Go-To Expert’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 

Heather blogs regularly at How to make partner and still have a life and works with future and current Big 4 partners and professionals from mid-tier firms all over the world


This post originally appeared in a different form on the How To Make Partner website.

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