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Strategies for Staying Calm

We all know that feeling. Things are going great and then you hit a speed bump. You can feel every muscle in your body tighten up, your mind starts racing, breathing and heart rate gets faster, and you may even detect fiery water in your eyes just threatening to spill out. Your day just went from great to well…not in no time flat.

Feeling panic or losing your sense of calm when things go wrong is natural and nothing to be ashamed of. However, there are ways you can better keep your cool and move through stressful situations in a more productive way. Below we have five suggestions for staying calm in any situation that will help you in your everyday life.

1. Just breathe. It is natural and pretty common to start breathing harder when panic sets in. That is why taking a minute to clear your mind and slow your breathing can be so helpful. This method gives you a minute to yourself to calm down and really think about what is going on before reacting in the heat of a moment. To do this simply:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out.

  • During this interval imagine all the stress you are feeling exiting your body with each exhale.

  • Take a minute to smile or laugh. It’s proven you can’t stay mad if you are smiling.

  • These steps can be repeated as many times as needed throughout the day.

2. Shake it off. One of our body’s natural responses to stress and panic is to clench up. Taking a minute to assess where you are feeling tight can help you relax in a tense situation.

  • If you can, massage any areas that feel tight such as shoulders, arms or neck to encourage relaxation.

  • Depending on where you are at pulling out a foam roller and taking a minute to stretch and relax your whole body can be very calming.

  • If you are stuck at a desk, imagine you are someplace relaxing like the beach or a hiking trail and just breath.

  • Run a bath or sit outside if you are at home and pour a glass of wine. Watch the tension melt away.

3. Learn to let things go. We are creatures of habit and sometimes it is very hard to accept when things don’t go how we imagine they would. However, we cannot control everything and sometimes the most helpful thing we can do for ourselves is accept reality and move on. Stressing about something that we have no power to change only causes us harm and prevents us from effectively working on things we do have power over.

4. Take time to look at the bigger picture. Often, we get caught up in moments we won’t remember tomorrow, let alone in five or 10 years. The next time something comes about that has you high strung, ask yourself “is this truly important?” Chances are pretty good it should barely be a blip on your radar and something you should move along from. Why stress yourself over something that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things? All it ends up doing is hurting you and solving nothing.

5. No one is perfect, including you. Our harshest critics are ourselves. No one is as critical of what we do than we are internally. Accepting that you and everyone around you aren’t perfect and never will be (sorry, but it is true) will bring you a greater sense of peace as you go about your day. Perfection is unattainable and unhealthy not only for you, but the people you love most as well. Take that pressure off the table and see how good life can be.

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