Pressure. It pushes down on me, presses down on you, and makes us second-guess everything from how to shoot a free throw, what to say next in an interview, or pronounce “niche” (or is it “nitch?”)
Even if we’ve done a task a million times, like walk up the stairs, order from a menu, or tie a sheepshank knot, under pressure or observation, we get psyched out and lose the most basic of skills. Indeed, a friend told me that once, during a lunch interview, she overthought how to swallow and had to sit for a few moments with a mouth full of iced tea before she could collect herself and figure it out.
How to prevent your brain from shutting down under pressure? Whether you’re trying to nail a work presentation, sink a putt, or spell “bougainvillea” for the win at the National Spelling Bee, let’s get it done with these three tips:
Tip #1: Get excited
The researchers behind a hilarious but solid study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology made participants sing the opening lines of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’”
But right before the small-town girl took that midnight train, each participant was assigned to say a specific phrase out loud, and—importantly—do their best to believe it. The phrases? “I am anxious,” “I am excited,” “I am calm,” “I am angry,” “I am sad,” or no statement at all.
Next, voice recognition software scored each karaoke performance on volume, pitch, and note duration.
What group performed worst? You guessed