Turbulent times can test even the most resilient folk who already have a great skill-set of tools for emotional wellbeing. All your knowledge can fly out the window when you’re in the middle of a crisis and feel overwhelmed.
Even Under Pressure offers ways to cope with life’s obstacles and to harness the skills you inherently have to get you through a crisis.
Resilience and mindfulness are the umbrella themes in this book, written by Kiwi leadership and self-management coach Tom Watkins. Dealing with adversity, he says, is a part of life and the more open you are to dealing with it, the better.
The ultimate aim is to be able to practice your existing, or developing, set of coping skills and have a positive attitude in the middle of a challenge.
Adversity reveals character
Everyone has an innate capacity for resilience – not just the natural optimists of the world – which can be developed with good techniques and practice, Tom explains in the book. “Some say that adversity builds character, others, that adversity reveals character.”
The theory of mindfulness and being aware that our thoughts create our feelings, and the effects that has on our bodies, is the backbone of coping with adversity, Tom says.
Mindfulness fundamentals include: what you pay attention to grows; your experience is only based on what you pay attention to; and your attitudes are dependent on your willingness to keep them.
No quick fixes
As a professional training consultant, Tom has taught these principles in workshops to many companies and people over the last few decades.
“In all things personal or professional, I value mindfulness, self-responsibility and collaboration above improvised quick-fixes, blaming, complaining or going it alone. I recommend the scenic route,” he says on his website.
Other helpful advice he provides in Even under Pressure includes addressing denial and avoidance of “slow-creep problems”, preventing and reducing stress, limiting conflict and cultivating resourceful thinking. Changing unhelpful perceptions and “dropping anchor” during the eye of the storm are also chapters that are valuable for coping with life’s challenges.
This is a self-published book and lacks a professional touch – the language, editing and layout is a little clunky and the topics are not that easy to navigate – but the content is science-based and promotes solid methods commonly practiced by mental wellbeing professionals.
What I found really useful were the chapter summaries – What? So What? Now What? – which provide reflections to consider the patterns of your thoughts and behaviours, and challenges to get on the right track.
Overall, this is a great book to have on hand and an excellent go-to in times of adversity when you need all the help you can get to stay centred. It’s a practical guide that you can easily dip into for simple tips on becoming more resilient and to remind yourself of what you’re truly capable of.
Reviewed by Paulette Crowley, freelance health writer