During deadlines, upcoming exams, and important presentations, my friends and workmates (always in bewilderment) ask me, “How the heck are you still so chill?”. I usually want to ask them “How the heck are you always so stressed?” in return.
A little fact about me: I am a pretty chill person… on the outside, and honey, you do not want to know what is going on inside my head. However, when faced with a stressful situation—especially if it is a sudden one—I know how important it is to stay calm on the outside and on the inside.
So, when everyone else is in a frenzy and pulling their hair out, I stay calm. Yes, I am also alert and I am aware of the urgency, but I still keep my composure.
Why you should remain calm
Let’s say you are suddenly under pressure because you are given a deadline to finish something or you are overwhelmed with the new changes or these new tasks, keeping your cool under all these circumstances will actually help you be more productive and will help you get your job done.
Moreover, you will gain confidence because you do not feel any hindrance pulling you down.
You will radiate a reliable image wherein people can count on you to give them guidance when they are too much in a hysteria to think properly.
With all that said, here are the ways that I have personally tried and found effective on how you can stay calm if you suddenly find yourself in stressful or uncontrollable situations:
Talk to yourself
This is what I always do when instances like this occur. Before I go ranting or confronting someone else, I talk to myself first. I mentally plan things out and strategize my next steps. I also ask questions to myself like, “On a normal day, what would I have done with this?”, or “What is the worst thing that could happen?”. Most of the time, my questions get answered and I am presented with a clear direction on what my next moves will be, and I slowly and surely calm down.
In this situation, I want you to think about the worst thing that could happen and make various solutions or moves on how you can avoid that particular outcome. You can also make a mental checklist or write it down. Then, think about the best thing that could happen after you’ve resolved the issue. You will find yourself more motivated to work and function effectively. You can even ask yourself, “Is this really worth stressing over?” because honestly, sometimes it is not.
Take a deep breath
You may want to punch the next person who will tell you to “Just breathe”. On other occasions, I would understand your desire to do that but in this case, you really need to take a breath. Focus on your breathing. If you feel like you are going to hyperventilate or you feel like everything is getting too much, stop whatever you are doing, even for a few seconds, and breathe. You can drink water and massage the sides of your head for a bit as well. A few seconds to gather yourself is important to have you work more effectively as you now have a clearer mind.
A great breathing exercise to help you calm down is to breathe in through your diaphragm and hold in that breath for four seconds, release, then do it again until you feel yourself slowly relaxing.
Tune out the noise
One way to stay calm in a stressful environment is to forget that you are in a stressful environment. Tune out your surroundings and focus on what is in front of you—on what you are doing—and your surroundings will just be a dull background noise. Remember how you become so focused on a movie that you do not notice your friends or anyone talking to you? You can do that in this situation as well.
Try as hard as you can to zone out your internal voices as well. You can actually lose more focus and be more stressed if you give too much attention to your worries, doubts, and fears instead of doing the task at hand or preparing yourself for what you need to do.
An effective way to tune out a stressful environment is to plug your earphones in. I usually play calming music but you can also play really loud, headbanger music which I believe can help block the noise more. It is really up to what works for you best.
If you think talking to yourself has not really alleviated the frantic feeling inside you, then it is best to talk to someone who you know can help you. It can be either someone who has great expertise in the situation you’re facing or someone you can trust and vent out to. Letting all your frustrations out and sharing whatever difficulty you are in can help release some of the pent-up stress you have.
Do not fret if you find yourself in more stressful situations than one. Think of this instead: if you expose yourself to stressful and pressuring environments, you will be able to master the art of staying calm.
P.S. I would know because I used to live that life.
How do you stay calm in stressful situations?