High school final examinations have just passed and a client was recently talking about his experience. Previously, he was a perfectionist who studied nonstop, put a significant amount of pressure on himself and felt that anything less than an A grade was a failure. These challenges have been a primary area of work within his therapy. And this year for the first time, he let go. He did study yet he put the books away to go to sleep early, have dinner with his family and even go out with friends. He commented that maybe he slacked off too much. Yet he felt more relaxed than ever before and oddly enough he received higher grades on his final examinations than he has in years.
It seems counterintuitive. We all want to strive to do better and we should. Yet there comes a point when too much pressure actually hinders our progress, as pressure can be anxiety-provoking. A good night of sleep will help you focus more and perform better than cramming until 4am. Believing that you will nail that presentation instead of playing worst-case scenarios in your mind will calm your nerves and help you to perform well. Realizing that you can take the SAT, ACT, GRE or whatever multiple times may help to eliminate “game-day” pressure. So ease up, chill out, relax…you might just find that you perform better!