When I was just a little younger, I had great big goals and objectives and aspirations for every day of my life. These days, my biggest ambition is to get through each day with grace and peace of mind – to be unflappable and to move peacefully from one task to another with focused attention and a quiet, calm energy.Simple right? Ok maybe not. However there are steps we can take to at least increase how often we remain calm. Why be calm? Heck, because it feels fantastic.
Anger and impatience wear on our hearts and our minds and our families. When we are in control of our emotions, we get more done, we communicate better, and we lead more productive, purposeful lives.
Here are twelve tips for keeping your cool and staying calm amid life’s situations – both big and small.
- Strive to not catastrophize
It’s easy to dramatize and make something a bigger deal than it is. When you are relating the problem to yourself, avoid the urge to magnify the negative. Strike the words always and whenever. You might feel like Stuart Smalley, but it can really help to re-frame the problem in your mind by saying things like “I can cope,” “It’s not that big a deal,” and “I’m bigger than this.”
- Think before you Share
Don’t describe or blog or tweet about the problem. Don’t talk it over with your friends right away; let it stew a little in your mind so you can settle down a little. Sometimes, well-meaning friends will sympathize too much, which may only add fuel to your fire and get you even more upset.
- Discover metaphors and visualizations that help you stay calm
Here’s one that helps me: I try to imagine my problem as a knot. The more I panic and pull on the ends, the tighter the knot cinches. But, when I adopt a singular focus, a calm takes over and I can loosen one strand at a time.
It might also help if you can visualize yourself acting with patience and focus. Lower your voice and try to move as slowly as possible. Speak slowly and softly. Become the calm, unflappable person you see in your mind.
Here’s another technique: Do you know anyone whom you would describe as unflappable? Try to think of what this person would do in your situation.
- Note your patterns of exasperationAre there any specific situations that cause you to lose your cool? Look at specific patterns — from time of day, to level of stress (or level of boredom), to blood sugar levels. Do you tend to lose it when it’s too noisy – or too quiet? Knowing about your own patterns can go a long way in helping you keep your cool throughout the day.
- Realize that you can control your emotions
Reflect on times when you were able to successfully stay calm in a frustrating situation. Maybe it was a time when you wanted to yell at your spouse or your kids, but then the doorbell rang and you were able to instantly shift gears. Consider that you might be able to do this repeatedly, as long as you know your triggers – and some tips for keeping a calm mindset.
- Create a calm environment with peaceful rituals
If calm music soothes you, use it. If silence soothes you, use it. Maybe you’ll play some soothing instrumental music or maybe you’ll dim the lights and light some scented candles.
When you are coming home from work, give yourself a few moments to calm your mind before you go charging into an evening at home with your kids. Sit in the car for a few minutes and take some deep breaths. Kick off your shoes and sip a glass of water. Rituals can also be tremendously soothing during the transition periods of your day.
I’m sure you are feeling calmer already. Keep reading to get the rest of the tips on staying calm under pressure.