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How to keep calm and manage pressure

Pressure can come from all angles, at any time, and will vary depending on your stage of life - so there's not much escape from it. Pressure can be a good thing though. It can be a source of motivation and give us the kick we need to get things moving in the direction they need to be.

But sometimes, pressure can be so overwhelming that it stops you doing anything at all. You may even suffer with atychiphobia: fear of failing. And the trouble with this is when you fear failing SO intensely, you'll never try anything. So you've already failed, right? You see the cycle.

Rather than give in to this, the challenge is to manage which pressures to prioritise and how you let them affect you.

Parent expectation

Whether they mean to or not, parents can contribute to the worry of not achieving. Everyone wants to make their parents' proud and meet the expectations they may have of you. But it's important to remember that your parents will always be your best supporters - even when you mess up.

Parents also have an instinct to want to protect you from pain and upset, so if you're starting to get tired of the "you won't pass that exam by watching Netflix all day?" jibes - just let them know you're actually feeling pretty anxious at the moment.

They'll soon get off your back and may even ask how they can help you out.

Academic pressure

Installed in us from as early as 7-years-old, wanting to achieve at school is a pressure we've all carried - which only gets bigger the higher up the education ladder you go. A healthy dose of pressure here is useful - it keeps us focused on getting good grades. But when all the revision, exams, essay deadlines and assessments get on top of you, it's easy to want to throw in the towel and give up.

Here's where your prioritising comes in, as managing the stack of work you have is vital. And the only way to do that, is to get organised. Diaries, planners, colour-coded notebooks, subject folders - all the good stuff. If you've just started a new year, don't try to tackle the entire course in one hit. Speak to your course leader and find out what the first assessment will be and when. Then circle that date and prioritise around it.

That's not to say you switch off from every other piece of work until you've finished the imminent one - life just isn't kind enough to give us neat schedules like that. Keep the others ticking over, brain-dumping when you have a good idea, jotting down notes for areas you're not so confident with - but always result back to your priority list.

And if the pressure is still too much - ask for a helping hand. That's why tutors, school councellors and mentors exist. Every single person would have been in your shoes at some point - so make the most of the resources in place to help you.

Guess what: asking for help is not failing. It's a positive decision to tackle your problem head on.

Social media

Argh. Social media. Something you might not have expected to see listed here but it definitely needs to be. Despite all of its many positives, social media can bring its own SACK load of pressures and if you're a habitual user (like me) you may not even realise any affect it's having on you.

So APPARENTLY, not posting constant updates means you don't exist but posting TOO MANY updates means you're showing off and your 'friends' will lose interest in you. And then there's the worry of what to post, whether to use a filter or not, because if you DO your photo will look flawless, but if it looks TOO flawless than people will think you're fake.

And then you've got to think about when to POST it to make sure you get OPTIMUM LIKES. Because you've just seen that the pretty, sporty girl in your class has got hundreds of likes AND comments on her photo. And now you feel rubbish and embarrassed and a failure.

BREATHE. This is a classic example of pressure you just don't need. Yes, social media can be fun, yes it can connect us to people and include us in great things - but recognise when to step away from it.

Peer pressure

Similar to social media, this is a bit of a love/hate situation. Buddies are great - of course. But often we end up comparing ourselves to them and having a bit of an identity crisis along the way.

The boy in your class that passed his driving theory and test first time. Your friend who bagged the job you really wanted. The girl you sit next to who went travelling for 3 months but still managed to get straight A's in all her subjects.

As cliché as it sounds, there will always be someone who seems to be thriving at everything you want to be. But the reality is they're probably reading this post too. You are you, and wasting energy focusing on what you haven't got instead of working on how you get what you want - is unproductive.

It's easy to get sucked into other peoples aspirations and make them your own too. Focus on your own goals and what actually matters to you. Once you've brushed aside peer pressure (in all its forms) you'll start to realise you're your own boss. I promise.

Feeling super anxious about learning to drive? We've been there. Give this a little read.


Katey Joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of all things social and content. She passed her driving test in 2015 and her first car is a Toyota Yaris T3 named Tyrone.