a man with his hands folded over his nose who doesn't know how to handle pressure in life

How to Handle Pressure in Life And Use It to Your Benefit

By guest author and Finally Family Homes Chairman of the Board, JP Forrest

Are you dealing with a lot of pressure in life? You’re not alone. A lot of us are. As a black man living in America through 2020, I could spend all day talking about pressure. I’m going to share with you how to handle pressure in life and how to actually benefit from it. But first, let’s talk about where the pressure is coming from.

I could start with the miscarriage of justice regarding the murder of Breonna Taylor, and the wanton disregard of people from black and brown communities by our nation’s criminal justice system.

Then there’s how we are disproportionately being infected and dying from COVID-19, because of a lack of access to healthcare. And there’s the pressure that comes from the vast economic disparity that exists between my community and the white community.

And to top it off, my neighbors have called security on me more than 15 times in an effort to harass me and get me to move out of my condo. The security has become so fed up with the false calls that they have actually agreed to testify if I take my neighbors to court!

Yes, I can definitely spend a great deal of time talking about life’s pressures. But it is not enough to talk about it. We must do something about it. And to do something about it, we must first understand it.

How to Handle Pressure in Life

Now I can give you an intellectual definition of what it means to be under pressure from “Dr. So-N-So” who has more degrees than a thermometer but this is all you need to know:

That feeling of being under pressure or stress is a reaction to bad news, a bad situation, or a bad day. That reaction can be physical, emotional, or both.

When I think about being under pressure I think about Sammy Clark, a kid who ruled the schoolyard back when I was a kid. I was 10 years old, and a helluva dodgeball player.

Handling Pressures at School

One day my friend T.G. and I were the last two “survivors,” and I had the red ball in my hand ready to strike. I threw the ball and as it made its way to T.G.’s face. Sammy Clark ran in the path and was hit instead.

The whole school yard went silent. Sammy turned to me and said these words, “I’m gonna kill you after school.” I made nothing of it until found myself with a pistol pointing at my head. Sammy uttered the words, “I said I was going to kill you…didn’t I?”

Tears streamed down my face as I pleaded for my life. All of a sudden Sammy withdrew his weapon and left. The crowd who had gathered was disappointed because they thought they were gonna see someone get shot…yep, that’s the kind of hood I grew up in.

Take Back Your Control

Stress is a bully. It threatens us, it blames us…it tells us that we are nothing and that everything is our fault. Stress tells us that we are not worthy of love, that we are the problem, and that the world is better off without us.

But here’s the reality: Love is more powerful than stress, and hope is more powerful than your past.

“Love is more powerful than stress, and hope is more powerful than your past.”

Jeffrey Forrest

So here is a principle for dealing with life’s pressures…Forgive yourself…Love yourself and take ownership of your tomorrow. Take a long hard look at that person in the mirror staring back at you and tell them, “It’s going to be alright.”

Managing Pressure in Life

There are generally two ways people respond to life’s pressures. The first is a toxic response which involves engaging in destructive behavior. The second is a strategic response in which you settle yourself down and think about the best way to deal with your situation.

Crumbling Under Pressure

This is what crumbling under pressure looks like. It is a toxic or self-destructive response that chooses negative ways to deal with stress, such as promiscuity, substance abuse, crime, etc. Choosing a toxic response makes your situation worse and results in more stress. 

Now look, everybody has a moment in which they feel the pressure is so great that they want to “go and do something.” It’s easier to choose unhealthy ways to deal with stress, I get it. Hell, I have been there, and it nearly got me killed. There is no level of stress that you can go through in which you should go out and do stupid. Stupid choices only lead to stupid consequences. 

How to Perform Better Under Pressure

There’s a much better way to cope with stress. When you choose the strategic response, you relieve stress by choosing productive strategies that will help you perform better under pressure. First, calm yourself. Then, focus on problem-solving.

The strategic response seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. Figure Out Why You Are Stressed Out

Now the reason(s) could be:

  1. You broke (no money).
  2. You broke (Relationship ended).
  3. You broke (Physical health).
  4. You broke (Living situation).
  5. You broke (other).

Notice that all of the reasons above have a common thread…you broke. 

how to handle pressure in life

Being broke is not limited to your financial situation. It covers all of the bases of misery in your life. But here is the good news:

You can be broke, but you don’t have to be broken!

2. Decide How You Are Going To Handle It

First, decide that your stressful situation is not going to get the best of you. Second, put together a game plan to address your situation. That may mean getting your college education, learning new skills, or letting go of that person you gave your love to. It could mean changing your lifestyle or seeking support from people and organizations you can trust. 

What lessons does this difficult situation teach me? 

Up until this moment we have been talking about a particular kind of stress known as DISTRESS, which we call “bad stress.” But there is another kind of stress, called EUSTRESS. It is “good stress.” 

Good Stress

Eustress is good stress. It teaches you those hard lessons that come from a bad situation, at work, at home, or at school. Eustress challenges you to be better, to push yourself harder, to demand more of yourself. It does not make excuses, it makes choices…the kind of choices that result in a better, happier you. 

Eustress is the the stress that will compel you towards success!

How to Thrive Under Pressure

If you are a human being, then at some point in time you are going to get stressed out. Stress is unavoidable and it is inevitable. There is no such thing as a “stress-free life.” But you can become the “best stressed” person in the room!

Your goal is not to avoid life’s pressures, but to learn how to manage pressures in life, so that you grow and succeed in fulfilling your God-given purpose. So here are some tips on how to thrive under pressure!

7 Ways To Manage Life’s Pressures

  1. Identify the people and situations that stress you out and stay away from them, or minimize your exposure to them.
  2. Manage your time and money well.
  3. Learn to share and be open about your life.
  4. Find a release valve – this could be a hobby or activity or any fun stress-relieving activity that allows you to deal with life’s pressures.
  5. Make time to relax.
  6. Eat healthy and exercise.
  7. Cultivate and build healthy relationships with people who love you for you.

Coloring can be a great way to wind down and has been shown to relieve stress!
Download our beautiful FREE inspirational coloring pages.

Some Final Thoughts On How to Handle Pressure in Life

There is no magic formula, no religion, no amount of money that will eliminate pressures from your life. However, you do not have to allow it to get the best of you. You have it in you to thrive under pressure.

Consider this: People die every day and you are still here. Still breathing. Still dreaming. Time to put that work in and go after the life you really want. And it starts with managing you and having a team around you that will challenge you, protect you, and be with you no matter what. To be your best you must manage pressure in life well.

About The Author

JP Forrest serves on the board of Finally Family Homes and is the Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at College of the Canyons. JP travels the across the country as a speaker, and has blessed the youth at our Life Launch program, educating them in life skills.

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