Stay Positive and Calm Under Stress

When everyone is so focused on to-do lists, you may be surprised to realize one of the most important actions you can take in an emergency is actually a “to-don’t.”
Don’t freak out. Don’t get overexcited. Don’t leap to conclusions.
In a stressful situation, staying calm is your superpower. 

This does not mean to take a situation lightly, ignore thoughtful advice, or hope everything will get better if you close your eyes and pretend nothing has gone wrong. This means to take a deep breath so you can think logically and make important decisions accordingly. When you have clarity of mind, you are able to focus on solutions—not problems.

With a calm and relaxed mind, you can bring the necessary leadership that’s so important to your life and the lives of others in times of distress and uncertainty. In fact, individuals who are able to stay calm under pressure and keep a positive mental outlook during a chaotic situation may be more likely to find personal and professional success. 

According to the emotional intelligence research group Talent Smart, 90% of top performers in the workplace have a high emotional intelligence quotient. This means they are highly capable when it comes to the social and personal skills that help manage themselves and their relationships with others. Emotional intelligence can help you respond to a variety of situations in a mature, thoughtful manner and, ultimately, treat yourself and your colleagues with respect, kindness, and love.

However, staying calm is easier said than done. Even the most level-headed individual can find themselves flailing about in the wrong situation. When times are truly terrible, it’s easy to feel hopeless.

Here are five ways you can stay focused on the positive and keep calm.

Make Your First Thought a Good One

Negativity breeds negativity. It can be easy to give into the cycle of thinking something negative and then adding another and another problem to the list, until it’s all you can think about. So, start with positivity. When you wake up in the morning, take stock of all that’s good. It could be as basic as feeling thankful for a restful night of sleep, hot shower to be had, or the rays of sun creeping through the window.

Start with Exercise

Get a boost on your day and a charge of endorphins thanks to some early morning exercise. Moving your body will help you feel ready to take on the day (and, for some, might even be a distraction from thinking about anything else). As a plus, you’ll likely feel less interested in going back to bed or lazing about, so you’ll also walk away with the motivation to take on your to-do list.

Phone a Friend (or Text, or Email…)

Sometimes the only way to get out of your own head is to open up about your problems. When you’re feeling down, phone a friend. You might feel like in order to stay calm you need to adopt a stoic attitude and shut down your feelings. This could make the situation worse. Once you talk about your problems, you might find they are more manageable.

Try Something New

Distraction is key to breaking your negativity cycle, and creativity can help you build positivity. Pick up a new hobby, make something with your hands, turn off the news and pick up a book. Trying something new and different can help you see your challenges as opportunities for starting a new chapter, too. It may not be easy right now, but doing something—even a small something—creative can help.

Walk Away from Your Triggers

If you know something (or someone) is likely to set you off, walk away. Avoid temptation and don’t fall into the trap. It might help for you to consider why the situation is so difficult for you, but if you don’t have the strength to tackle that question in the current moment, that’s fine. For now, just know you have the power to say “no” to negative influences.


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