Sometimes the strain you put on yourself is unnecessary and it’s important to know when you are in these scenarios. Unnecessary strain is usually accompanied by dreams of being successful, fear of failure or simply a need to be productive. However, the thing about putting unnecessary pressure on yourself is that it usually does more harm than good, especially for your mental wellbeing.
This is why it is important to realize when it is appropriate to exert yourself and when you need to relax and take it easy. Many people don’t realise this, but relaxing plays an important role in success. Success does not have to come through putting pressure on yourself to always do more, instead, one needs to take care of them-self in order to be both successful and happy, which is an unmatched combination.
Why you should not put unnecessary pressure on yourself
The most important reason as to why you should not put unnecessary pressure on yourself is because it is bad for both your physical and mental health. Unnecessary pressure is bad for your mental state because it is always accompanied by negative feelings. Examples of these are stress and inadequacy. You feel stressed out because you have put so much pressure on yourself to complete many tasks (some of which are unrealistic) and all you can think about is how you’re going to get it all done. This may result in you not doing your best in whatever you’re doing because some of your attention is being stolen by the stress.
You won’t be able to fully concentrate on what you are working on. This then ties in with the feelings of being inadequate. This arises because you have set goals for yourself that you are now unable to achieve, and sometimes this makes one feel like a failure. This is why it is important to always do what you can and not put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Happiness is the main priority, and anything that does not add to our happiness has to be eliminated. Therefore, unnecessary pressure has to be eliminated. We cannot be inflicting pain on ourselves. The worst betrayal is towards ourselves, our own mind, bodies and souls. You need to take good care of you, and part of that involves listening to how much your body and mind can take, and adjusting accordingly.
As earlier stated, unnecessary pressure is also bad for our physical health. If we desire to live long and happy lives, we need to take care of our bodies. When you take care of your body, your body takes care of you. Every part of your being is connected, and this is why stress also manifests physically. One reason why you should not put unnecessary pressure on yourself is because this may result in you getting stressed, which will in turn result in problems for your muscular system.
When you are stressed, the muscles tense up and they do this in order to protect themselves. When you relax, they tend to release again. However, if you are constantly under stress, your muscles may not get the chance to relax and they remain tight. Tight muscles cause headaches, back and shoulder pain as well as body aches. What this will do in the long run is that it will stop you from exercising and you will turn to pain medication in order to feel better (Healthline). This is an example of a physical manifestation of stress. Therefore, it is important to try by all means to include relaxing in your daily schedule and make sure that you are not under constant strain.
How to know when you’re putting unnecessary pressure on yourself
It’s easy to tell when you’re putting pressure on yourself. YOUR BODY COMMUNICATES THIS. When you override your body’s signals and take action that is different from what you really want, you may feel overwhelmed, upset or disconnected (Huffpost). This is your body speaking to you, and when you listen to it, you will immediately realise that you are putting pressure on yourself. The difficult part is determining whether or not this pressure is unnecessary. This part is difficult because we are so used to thinking that more is better because it will yield greater results in whatever we’re working on.
For instance, as a student, one would think that the more they study, the better their results will be. Therefore, they would spend all their time in the library, working on assignments, studying for upcoming tests and going above and beyond what they actually have to do, because of the idea that the more they exert them-self, the greater the reward. It’s definitely true that in the universe, you reap what you sow. It’s just like farming. You cannot plant an orange seed and get out an apple tree. In the same way, you cannot plant laziness and reap the benefits of work. But this does not mean that you have to over-exert yourself.
In order to determine whether or not you’re putting unnecessary pressure on yourself, context is extremely important. Your surroundings in that particular moment are vital. What’s currently going on in your life? Answering this question will determine whether the pressure you’re putting on yourself is necessary. You have to approach the question by keeping your own life in mind, and not the lives of other people. Pressures differ, and what may be a good amount of pressure to someone else may strain you further than your body can handle.
So, what is going on in your life? I will use the student example. A student (who we will name Tanyaradzwa) may have two upcoming tests and an assignment in the same week. Therefore, she has to study for both these tests and work on her assignment. There is already pressure on Tanyaradzwa, but the pressure is necessary. These deadlines are close by and therefore need to be prioritised.
However, Tanyaradzwa may decide that at the same time, she wants to do extra research after her classes as this will help her to achieve better marks. This is a classic example of putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. She wants to do more as she believes that more will yield better results. However, it is clear that she is now stretching herself too thin. It is common knowledge that when you try to become a master of too many things, you become a master of nothing. In this case, Tanyaradzwa is no longer going to give her tests and assignment the attention that they need. This is because she is doing too many things at the same time. Some of which are UNNECESSARY. This extra research together with her studying will probably not go well because she is not prioritising any of them, rather, doing too many things at the same time.
At earlier stated, YOUR BODY WILL COMMUNICATE WHEN YOU ARE OVER EXERTING YOURSELF. You may feel tired, stressed out and irritable among other things. Happiness is always our main priority, so you therefore have to ask yourself if these feelings are worth whatever you are doing. That is how you can tell when you are putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. It may be worth it for Tanyaradzwa to feel stressed out now because she is going to do well in her tests, but the extra research is not worth the negative emotions. This is where the best way to stop putting unnecessary pressure on yourself comes in: MOVE THE DATES.
How to stop putting unnecessary pressure on yourself
MTD – Move The Dates
When you feel the pressure, ask yourself another simple question that I came up with: Can I MTD? This means, can I move the dates? You don’t have to do everything in one day! Some people feel that every second that they are not working is time wasted. This is the worst thing you could do to your body because your body NEEDS TIME TO REST. Our bodies are designed to respond to short outbursts of stress, but when the stress is prolonged and the stress response is triggered repeatedly and on a regular basis, this can lead to chronic stress. Chronic stress comes with things like headaches and high blood pressure (very well mind) . Moral of the story: RELAX!
You need to rest and enjoy your life. Everything in life needs a balance. Too much work and no play leads to unhappiness. Too much play and no work also leads to unhappiness. Balance. Understand that it is okay to stop working and do something that you enjoy and is outside of work. This is why moving the dates is a helpful technique. When you feel overwhelmed by everything that you have to do, ask yourself if you can move some things on your “to do list” to another day and still be able to complete them well and not in a rush? If you can do that and you’re currently overwhelmed, move the dates!
In Tanyaradzwa’s case, she is definitely able to move the “extra research” to another time as she does not have to do it now. What needs her urgent attention are her two upcoming tests and assignment. If she manages to get some free time during this, she must use that time to rest and relax, and not invite more stress and pressure into her life by doing more work. Resting will also allow her mind to feel refreshed and in turn she will do better when she returns to her tasks.
Short breaks are your friend
So what do you do if unlike Tanyaradzwa, everything you have on your “to do” list needs your urgent attention? You take breaks! This is a welcomed solution to some of us, but to others who want to work until they drop, this probably doesn’t sound so good. Either way, you need to do it. Here’s why: As beautifully put by very well mind, “sometimes we just need to take a break from stress long enough to disrupt the body’s stress response cycle, and then get back into action”.
It’s just a way of making your body work for you instead of against you. There are countless things that you could do during your short breaks. It all depends on you and what you enjoy doing. You may watch an episode of your favourite series (just don’t carried away and watch 5!), go for a walk, listen to music or for the ultimate relaxing session, meditate. Even a 10 minute meditation could do the trick.
In conclusion: Take care of yourself
Always make sure that you are taking care of yourself mentally and physically in the middle of all the commitments and deadlines. Also make sure to listen to your body. It will always communicate its needs and if you meet them, it too will meet your needs. Your happiness and health are very important, and it is possible to do all the work that you need to and simultaneously take care of yourself. In fact, it is not only possible, but essential.