How do you calm yourself in high pressure?

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics, and Training' started by The Exile, Aug 15, 2020.

  1. Phaedrus/69

    Phaedrus/69 Member

    Jun 20, 2013
    Big Sky Country
    Character has zero do to with it, that much I know. There are plenty of dirtbag criminals that are cool as a cucumber under pressure. It comes down to stress inoculation and skill/familiarity in my experience. The first time you do something you're usually nervous; you don't have any experience so you don't really know if you've learned the skill and you have no way to know but to try it. The more you use a given skill the more comfortable you are, and you move through the stages from unconscious incompetence to unconscious mastery.


    Personality is complicated but yeah, the "thermostat" for stress and panic is set at a different level for each of us. Still this is the default setting and it need not remain at that setting your whole life. Some folks are ground down over the years and lose that youthful cockiness while others apply themselves diligently and find they naturally become confident under stress.

    The interesting thing is that your body doesn't understand stress in a rational way. Stress due to being in a gunfight is same to your body as stress at giving a speech in front of a large crowd. Long term stress is very damaging to your health (particularly your heart) and it doesn't matter what the source of the stress is.

    When I was a young line cook and we'd 300 covers in a couple of hours I'd panic! But after decades as a chef I'm not cool as the other side of my pillow when we're in the weeds. That came from many years of slashing and burning is some very high volume and high end restaurants. The point is that you will learn to deal with stress by training for the situation that's stressing you out.
    Olon and Jeff White like this.
  2. Good Ol' Boy

    Good Ol' Boy Member

    Apr 26, 2016
    Mechanicsville, VA
    Lots of good responses. Now I'll give my .02.

    I go to work daily working around commercial woodworking machines that can kill you in the blink of an eye. I don't say that to present myself in any certain manner one way or the other.

    When you first start working with these machines you are nervous to say the least. As you learn you become comfortable working with them. Not complacent but comfortable. There is a difference.

    I'm not an expert but I would be willing to bet its the same for a lot of trades as well as military and LE. Practice and training are of the utmost importance.

    That being said, I am also a competitive shooter and religiously shoot 5 IDPA matches a month. I also practice at home both live and dry fire.

    Point being im around a lot of dangerous stuff that can get one nervous regularly. The regular part of it is what makes one more comfortable with it.

    In regards to competition you just need to go try it. Theres really no other way to get familiar.

    As far as keeping your cool in a SD situation there's no real answer for that, except maybe from folks who have been in that scenario.
    theotherwaldo likes this.
  3. ojibweindian

    ojibweindian Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Union Grove, Alabama
    Train/practice/learn. The feelings of stress won't go away, but you should be able to perform, as long as you're concentrating on the task at hand.
  4. film495

    film495 Member

    Aug 26, 2019
    learn to juggle. the same type of hypnotic concentration needed to juggle, is the focus you want in a high pressure situation.
  5. Koroner

    Koroner Member

    Nov 11, 2019
    southwest Utah
    This is called tachipsychia, "the speed of the mind".
    Just like a slow motion camera you are multiplying the input because, instead of using a tenth of your brainpower as usual, you are suddenly super alert.

    Sometimes they teach this to cops or soldiers so that they know there is nothing wrong and you are probably moving faster than ever.

    For me, a half century of rock climbing has taught me to turn fear into strength.
    GBExpat likes this.
  6. The Exile

    The Exile Member

    Apr 6, 2015
    Reminds me of the time I Mad Maxed my car into a ditch upside down last Winter, if only I could learn to just feel that way on a whim. Was weird though how I didn't feel anything after, no stress, no confusion, in the moment absolutely nothing but pure logical decision making, and when it was all done I just bailed out calmly and brushed myself off. a̶n̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶n̶ ̶w̶a̶l̶k̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶w̶a̶y̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶l̶o̶o̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶b̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶e̶x̶p̶l̶o̶s̶i̶o̶n̶

    Mom was more rattled about it 2 hours later than I was in the moment.
  7. Kevin Keith

    Kevin Keith Member

    Oct 24, 2009
    Lots of good ideas and advice here. However, if all else fails...
    The Exile likes this.
  8. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

    Oct 12, 2007
    Lots of good advice in this thread. And has been said, being scared is okay as long as you do not let the fear overtake you. learn to deal with it and keep it under control. I've been in a situation or three that had very high pucker factors while in the Army. I feel training is a must - train as you fight. Physical fitness and proper breathing control is important also.

    I won't sit here and lie to you and say that I wasn't scared on my first parachute jump. Yes I froze at the door and the jump master put his foot in my rear on my first jump. After that I was ready and raring to go. My first HALO was pretty scary too. And being on a two way range always gets the adrenaline pumping. It is how you learn to handle it that matters. I still find myself moving towards gun fire/loud noises to this day. And yes I still sometimes grab for my gas mask when the storm sirens go off. Again training kicking in.

    My military experiences also helped me when I worked as a bouncer at bars. It helps being able to stay calm in a stressful situation. By you staying calm, it helps others around you calm down.
  9. PWC

    PWC Member

    Feb 20, 2018
    Central AZ
    Stress is how you react to any given situation. Stress is worse when you are unsure what to do or how to react. In shooting, I think training is the best stress breaker. Trust yourself and your equipment, shoot the same way you have trained and don't look at the leader board. You are only competing against yourself.

    If you have time, put the gun down and rebuild your position. Train until you don't have to think about the integrated act of shooting. Don't chase your last shot.

    Stress when your parachute fails to open or opens with malfinction...the only thing that will save you is your emergency procedure TRAINING. The media pictures showing a parachute malfunction leading to an unfortunate ending, usually show the parachutist paniced and didn't follow malfunction TRAINING procedures. I've been involved in 2 put of 372 jumps.
  10. scaatylobo

    scaatylobo Member

    Oct 7, 2010
    Western NYS
    Did not read all the replys.
    But the technique that I was taught a very long time ago was to "learn to breath ".
    Might sound simplistic or trite,but it was a real factor that taught me how to destress.
    Either look it up,Yoga breathing,or what I was taught = the 4 count.
    Count 4 breathes in and 4 out to a constant count.
    Also I have used the mantra [ chant to myself ] C.A.L.M then D.O.W.N. to that same 4 count.
    This will not work for the first few days,week,or possibly months = it take TIME to learn.
    Been doing this for about 5 and 1/2 decades !
    The Exile likes this.
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