8 psychological habits of people who thrive under pressure

In my first sales job, I worked with this guy, Conor, who seemed completely unfazed by the fast pace, tough targets, and high-pressure environment. 

It didn’t matter if he was bottom of the leaderboard, Conor seemed to take it all in his stride. I was the complete opposite – super stressed and a total mess. I wanted to be more like Conor.

Almost 10 years later, I’m still growing and developing in this area. But I’ve learned a lot and picked up a few habits that have really helped me when the pressure is on. 

Today, I’m sharing 8 psychological habits of people who thrive under pressure.

Which of these habits are already part of your routine?  

Let’s jump in. 

1) They eat a high-protein diet 

You’re probably thinking “How can eating a high-protein diet help me to thrive under pressure” right? 

Let me explain.

In an interview recently Jordan B. Peterson, Canadian psychologist and best-selling author, said “Next time you feel anxious eat something, protein would be best”. I was intrigued.

Turns out that “eating protein at breakfast can help you feel fuller longer and help keep your blood sugar steady” helping to reduce anxiety, as also outlined by Mayoclinic.

When we’re under pressure, anxiety can increase the fear of failure and making mistakes becomes overwhelming.

Eating more protein is a simple way to manage anxiety and help us to cope better and even thrive, in high-pressure situations. 

2) They embrace challenges and failure

You’ve heard the famous quote by inventor Thomas Edison “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”, right? 

It’s about embracing challenges and failure. And this is something that people who thrive under pressure do automatically. 

You see: what it really comes down to is adopting a growth mindset. 

“When you have a growth mindset, you believe you can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed, which makes every challenge a learning opportunity” as noted by Harvard Business Review Online.

At first, you have to work at developing a growth mindset, but after a while it just becomes instinctive. And it makes dealing with high-pressure situations a whole lot easier. 

3) They practice being present

In the Netflix documentary “The Last Dance” centred around Michael Jordan, author Mark Vancil talks about how one of Jordan’s most powerful habits is that he’s always present.

“Michael is a mystic. He was never anywhere else. His gift wasn’t that he could jump high, run fast, shoot a basketball. His gift was that he was completely present.”

Just like Jordan, people who thrive under pressure have developed the habit of being present instead of worrying about what-ifs. 

It’s all well and good saying this but how do we actually do it?

 As outlined by Tony Robbins, American author and motivational speaker, simple ways to get started with this are: 

  •  Focus on the present moment 
  • Get in touch with your senses 
  • Consider what you are grateful for right now 

4) They practice positive self-talk

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about screaming affirmations at the mirror hoping that your life will change. Positive self-talk is about managing what your inner voice is saying to you.  

It’s another habit that you have to work at in the beginning, but soon enough it becomes a psychological reflex. 

“Some people believe they can credit their success to having a strong inner voice,” as noted by Psychology Today.

Muhammed Ali famously said, “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was”. Positive self-talk played an important role in his very successful career. 

Does that little voice in your head feed you with positivity? If so, there’s a good chance you’ve already got this habit nailed. 

But if not; an easy way to start developing positive self-talk is, when you hear that inner voice being negative, just flip it to something positive. For example, if you find yourself saying “I can’t,” flip the script and make it “I can”.

Before long, you’ll be doing it automatically and you’ll never tolerate negative self-talk again. 

5) They hone their skills

open minded thinker 8 psychological habits of people who thrive under pressure

Have you ever noticed that the more confident you feel about something, the less stressed you are under pressure? 

I experienced this first-hand when I made a career change a few years back. In the first few months, I was stressed and under a lot of pressure. 

But as I got to grips with the job, my confidence grew and before long I was much more able to handle the pressure with almost no stress. This is Bandura’s self-efficacy theory at play – having confidence in your abilities which allows you to handle challenges and solve problems.

High self-efficacy has been linked with numerous benefits to daily life, such as resilience to adversity and stress” – simply put, the more confident you are in your ability to do whatever you need to do, the less stressed you will feel in those high-pressure scenarios.

What skills are you working on that will ultimately make you more confident? 

6) They set goals

We all know that writing our goals down makes us 42% more likely to achieve them. But most people still don’t do it. 

You might be wondering, how does setting goals help someone to thrive under pressure? 

Are you familiar with the principle “Find your why” by Simon Sinek? In a personal development or business sense, this “why” stands for a sense of purpose, as outlined by Forbes.

In other words: having goals helps you to remember why you are doing it when things get tough and the pressure is on. 

Being in the habit of setting goals is a great way to keep your purpose front and centre to guide you through challenging times. 

7) They practice self-care daily

When you hear “self-care,” what comes to mind? 

If you’re like me: meditation, journaling and cold water therapy all spring to mind. It’s not just about these things though. 

“True self-care is defined as activities that bring you closer to your authentic self” by Psychology Today. The following are all examples of self-care:

  • Taking regular exercise
  • Carving out time to de-stress with hobbies
  • Spending quality time with friends and family
  • Making sure you get enough sleep

When it comes to self-care, there really is something for everyone. It’s all about looking after your physical and mental health in a way that suits you. 

It’s no surprise that people who thrive under pressure make sure that taking care of themselves is part of their daily routine – it ensures that they are better prepared for whatever the world throws at them. 

8) They seek feedback regularly 

When was the last time you proactively asked for feedback

Here’s the deal: Feedback is not always easy to take, and it’s human nature to avoid it if at all possible. 

However, people who thrive under pressure actually make a habit of seeking feedback regularly. This is one of the ways that they push themselves to get comfortable being uncomfortable. 

Getting used to being uncomfortable helps them do well when the pressure is on. 

Final thoughts

There you have it, 8 psychological habits of people who thrive under pressure.

The most important thing to recognize is that at first, these habits require some effort. But trust me, before long, they become second nature. 

How many of these 8 habits are already part of your routine?

Cat Harper

Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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