Most of the world’s most successful people have the ability to stay calm in stressful situations. In fact, they probably couldn’t have achieved their levels of success without learning to stay calm and relaxed under pressure. Here are seven tips to help you keep your cool in stressful situations.
1/ Control Your Breathing
When we are anxious or feeling stressed, we tend to take quick, shallow breaths. This can further exasperate our chances to stay calm as fast, light breaths can make us feel light-headed, dizzy and panicky. The good news is that by practicing a simple technique to control your breathing you can lower your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure, reduce muscle tension and bring a sense of calm to your body and mind. Try slowly inhaling a normal breath through your nose filling your lower lungs, holding it for a second, and then slowly releasing it through your mouth. Continue this gentle breathing pattern in a relaxed, slow manner until you feel calmer.
2/ Avoid Caffeine
The last thing you need when you feel you are losing control, overwhelmed or stressed is caffeine. Caffeine is great when you need a boost, giving you a quick burst of energy, but it is a central nervous system stimulant that can cause anxiousness and jitters, further stimulating an already over stimulated brain in a stressful situation. Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee when you are feeling stressed, try hydrating yourself with a glass of water.
3/ Stay Positive
Having a negative attitude in a stressful situation is a sure fire way to enable the moment to completely overwhelm you. Your mind will start imagining the worst case scenarios, the more difficult it will be for you to remain calm, and your stress levels will soon be off the scale. Let go of negative thoughts, employ positive thinking and you’ll find the situation less stressful. Positive thoughts have the potential to shape who you are and your circumstances.
4/ Look At The Big Picture
The next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, take a step back and ask yourself: Is this going to matter to me tomorrow, next week, next month or a year from now? The answer is usually that it won’t! As Richard Carlson said: “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”.
5/ Focus On One Thing At A Time
For me, trying to multi-task can lead to confusion, chaos and stress. Multi-tasking can certainly increase efficiency but it can also make life and tasks more complicated and often more stressful than necessary. Instead, try focusing on just one job at a time and finish it before moving onto your next task and watch as your stress levels reduce and life becomes easier.
6/ Get Enough Sleep
Did you know that not getting sufficient or the right kind of sleep raises stress hormones even without a stressor? Factor in that sleep deprivation also reduces your ability to focus and stay attentive and we can understand why we feel more stressed after a bad night’s sleep. Making efforts to have a good night’s sleep means you’ll feel alert, refreshed and ready to face the day with less stress and a calmer attitude.
If you are getting nowhere with a project and can feel your stress levels rising, try walking away and disconnecting from the task for a few minutes, an hour or even longer. Maybe start another job or even better, do nothing at all. You’ll give yourself a chance to calm down, release any emotional attachments and face the task again with a fresh, clearer perspective.
As the author Stephen Covey says, ‘While we cannot always choose what happens to us, we can choose our responses.’ Next time you are feeling stressed, try out a few of these tips and you’ll soon be feeling calmer and back in control.