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Pressure Is a Friend!

Under pressure you can perform fifteen percent better or worse - Scott Hamilton (Olympic Gold medallist, Cancer survivor)

Whether you're searching for your perfect job, studying for exams or whatever stressful situation you find yourself in, pressure more often than not greets you on a daily basis. It's like that annoying friend who calls you just as you're about to sit down to watch a movie.

It can taunt you "you're not trying hard enough; you'll never meet your deadlines" et cetera.

I describe pressure as a friend because even though it might irritate you at times, pressure can be a positive thing. I've spent the past few weeks doing some seriously hard job searching which has resulted in some high pressurised interviews. I'd describe the latest one as Big Brother meets The Apprentice and not in a fun way.

Back in January when 2015 was all new and full of possibilities, I set myself the goal of having my dream job by Summer. This didn't happen and it frustrated me. My enthusiasm for interviews was fading; I felt tense and started to doubt myself.

That's what pressure does when you allow it to be a negative force in your life. This feeling of unease continued until I realised all the pressure was self-inflicted. The root of my problem was I had decided when I was 15 years old that by the time I was 25 I'd be some badass lawyer with the world at my feet. Fast forward ten years - I haven't yet taken over the legal world but that's ok!

Some people reach their goals faster in life than others, that's just the way it is and learning not to compare myself to everyone else was one of the greatest lessons I have learned so far this year. Anyone who was watching the Gaelic football at the weekend would have seen how pressure got to Kildare, they gave up whereas Fermanagh gave it everything they got.

Granted both teams lost but Fermanagh faced up to the challenge and they can turn their loss into a positive experience when they resume their training for 2016. I won't get every job I interview for but at least I'll know I gave it my best shot and my performance wasn't impacted by negative self-pressure.

Pressure and stress are usually pared together; I had never really thought about the difference between both words until I began writing this. Many people believe that pressure can be used in a positive way but stress is only ever detrimental to your mind-set.

Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, however, disagrees and urges people to also view stress as a positive. Her TED talk on the topic stress has been viewed almost 9 million times. It's a fascinating video and I'd urge you all to check it out. So how do you turn pressure into a positive force?

Like most things, it takes practice. When you think your stomach will be in a permanent knot from stress and your heart is pounding, try to remember that this is a temporary state. Self-belief is also a key; if you know you can do something then pressure should be looked upon as a chance to really prove how determined you are the fire in your belly.

When I feel pressure building up inside of me I visualise the pressure as Taz from Looney Tunes which gives me back control which in turn makes me feel more relaxed. (Learning not to laugh out loud in a waiting room at the thought of a little Taz spinning around inside me was a challenge)

Pressure will inevitably be part of life but it shouldn't control it.