Pressure & Stress – Is It REAL

Let’s talk about pressure.  It’s everywhere, isn’t it?  Pressure to perform at work, to meet expectations and the goals set forth for you.  Pressure to be a great mom, to provide all the things your children need to grow and develop into the best humans they can be.  The pressure of being a loving partner, finding the time to devote to them and meet their needs.  The pressure of being the best friend you can be, giving time to be there in the good and not-so-good moments.  Even the little things, like the pressure to get from one appointment to another and not let someone down.  It feels like SO MUCH.  Overwhelming perhaps.

I remember living that life. It was 1000% normal for me.  I grew up a teacher’s daughter - there was no room for mistakes.  I was a business leader and guided the direction for our people - there was no messing up as it affected many others.  I was a wife, there was no space for disappointment.  I was a mom, they needed me.  Expectations from every direction, boxing me in.  If you had asked me to describe what that all felt like, I would have said it felt like I was trapped in a box.  And the walls were getting closer and closer, tighter and tighter.  Imagine yourself, in that box, the walls closing in.  Maybe you don’t have to imagine.  Maybe that’s you right now.  

If this is you, be mindful.  There are some pretty major pitfalls.  One day you’re going along, and then the next thing you know:

  • You forget who you are
  • You’re living for others, to please others
  • You’ve placed your needs last, if you even consider them
  • You’re running ragged from one pressure point to another
  • You’ve hit BURN OUT

… and BURN OUT is a show stopper

It’s no way to live.  Not at all.  And none of those people in your life want you living this way.  They want you to be healthy and happy.  And that might be the picture they see as you do a fantastic job of making sure that’s what they see.  You don’t let them inside… to know how you’re feeling or really doing overall.  

This mode of operating is not sustainable.  You will crack and you won’t be giving anything or anyone the best version of you.  And deep down you’ll know that you’re not.  Then you might even beat yourself up over not giving your best.  And guess what?  You’re cycling, looping round and round in this world of stress and undue pressure.  

But what if it doesn’t have to be this way?  For real?

Let’s go back to that visual of the box where the walls are getting closer and closer, tighter and tighter from the stress and pressure.   I want you to feel it for a moment.  The walls - closing in.  Now, where I want to take you… and where I want to expand your thinking here is, with a question:  what if those walls aren’t real?  

Let that sit with you for a minute.  What IF they aren’t REAL?  

  • What if you’re placing them on yourself?
  • Do you know if those people really expect that level of effort, perfection, and performance?
  • Are those things truly all on your shoulders?
  • What if those expectations are enhanced by you?  Meaning, you’ve created in your mind that sense of pressure.  

I can tell you from my own personal experience and in helping so many others, that life does not have to be this cycle, looping round and round in pressure and stress.  You have options.  I encourage you to consider a few changes:

  • Look at how you communicate.  Could you make adjustments to better communicate with others?  Would that lead to a clearer understanding for you and all involved?
  • Ask for clarification - make sure you understand what is needed
  • Restate the end goal - ensure you are on the same page
  • Communicate your needs - do you have what you need to be successful
  • Be direct - shying away or holding back doesn’t move you farther ahead
  • Build space to breathe - don’t overbook yourself and pack your calendar because you think that’s expected
  • Build more time in between meetings or appointments - our brains need time to process and ‘end’ the prior meeting before switching gears to move to the next
  • Take time to stop and reflect - if you are not literally stopping long enough to allow room for awareness, the habits that enable stress and pressure will continue to show up
  • Do not indulge in the negative headspace, saying to yourself “I am stressed”, “there is so much pressure” - those thoughts also loop making it harder for you to make changes

My friend, you have choices.  Every single day.  Please take the time for yourself to allow for awareness of where you may be putting undue pressure and stress where it doesn’t need to be.  Enhancing it to another level.  Or taking on responsibility that might not even be yours.  Small changes to communication, creating space, breathing, and positive self-talk can lead to big shifts for the better.  And remember, to be the best version of yourself you have to show up for yourself.  


Tara Cox is a leadership and transformation coach with over 20 years in the world of people & culture, leadership, entrepreneurship, coaching and consulting.  She synergized her years of experience, leadership background and personal healing journey to create programs for and

to partner with high achieving women so they can reach new levels of success, resilience and sustained confidence.  She is a certified professional coach, certified change practitioner, and certified NLP practitioner.

When you’ve tried all the self-help things, taken all the advice and yet you’re still stuck and not where you want to be in life, in business, in relationships, as a leader - know that you have begun your journey.  You just need a partner to holistically guide you and show you the power within to rise to that next level. 

You can connect with Tara at, on Instagram @thetaracox or on Facebook.


Disclaimer: The words and comments herein are the opinions of the author and not specifically of Business Woman Sioux Falls as an organization.