“Keep calm and carry on” is a mantra much easier spoken than acted upon. When things don’t go the way we expect, it isn’t easy to just stay calm and act as though everything is okay when it isn’t.
Knowing how to remain calm through the most trying situations, however, is a great skill to have in all areas of your life, both as a professional in the real world and as a family member and friend. Here’s why.
Why you should learn how to keep calm
What happens when something goes wrong at work? Do you panic, hide in the break room and wait until it’s all over, or do you remain calm, figure out the best way to handle the situation and make the most of the circumstances?
In both our professional and personal lives, knowing how to keep calm is essential. Things rarely, if ever, go exactly as originally planned, both at work and at home. Employers expect that we handle everything professionally and strategically, even when we’re about ready to burst into tears.
Family and friends expect us to be present and perform our responsibilities, too, even when things aren’t going right. Keeping calm in both cases shows your boss and co-workers you are reliable and worth keeping around, and it reminds your family and friends that you care and are willing to make sacrifices for the good of the relationship.
Learning how to keep calm when you are frustrated or stressed is a worthwhile skill. Here are a few ways you can learn to stay calm and positive when things get rough.
Avoid asking the “What if?” questions
It’s almost impossible to keep calm when we always have our mindset stuck in an indefinite future. What if my boss doesn’t like my presentation? What if I don’t fit in with the company culture? What if my family doesn’t approve of this decision? This mindset is the best way to ensure you will never be calm again.
Approaching every situation asking “what if” questions will only make everything that much more difficult to handle calmly. Thinking this way, you are pretty much forcing your brain to dwell only on the worst possible outcome. As you can probably guess, this impairs your ability to handle things calmly.
Avoid asking these kinds of questions when trying to solve problems at work or in your personal life. Instead of focusing on what could be, try to force your mind to remain positive, which will in turn help you remain calm.
Use positive affirmations
As tough as it may seem at times, staying positive through the ups and downs of your life is a great way to learn how to keep calm no matter what life throws at you. You can practice remaining calm by shifting the way you think about different situations, others and even yourself.
Thinking positively helps reframe your perspective and makes even the most stressful situations seem much more manageable. Do this by putting a positive spin on every negative thought you have throughout the day, so that you can keep calm and get through it no matter what.
For example, if your boss says something to you that comes off the wrong way, you might instantly feel personally attacked and might even start to wonder if she’s on the verge of firing you. Instead of letting those thoughts send you into a panic, remind yourself that your boss might be having a bad day, she has a lot going on and her comment more than likely wasn’t meant to make you feel the way it made you feel.
Take the time to unplug
Whether you realize it or not, all that time you are spending glued to your phone and computer is doing you a lot more harm than good. We want to be constantly connected to the world and informed of the things that are going on around us, but if we never allow ourselves time away from that, it will cause much more stress than it’s worth.
Tackling our addiction to screens and tech can make us feel more relaxed. It helps minimize the “fear of missing out,” encourages us to be more creative and helps us experience life in the moment as it’s happening, instead of trying to live it through a phone or computer.
Set a designated time in the evening after which you will not pick up your phone or log onto your computer. Use this time to talk to someone face to face, read a book, play a board game or just sit and reflect. It’s okay to be out of touch with the world for a few hours before bed. In fact, it’s extremely healthy to do so.
Take care of yourself physically
Mental and physical stress go hand in hand. Mental stress makes you feel physically worn out and fatigued, and physical stress inhibits your ability to think clearly and make rational decisions. You can’t keep calm in any area of your life if you are too physically drained even to perform basic functions properly.
In general, we have a really bad habit of thinking that working harder will make us feel better. It doesn’t. It only causes more stress, which makes keeping calm nearly impossible to handle.
Limit your caffeine intake throughout the day. Make sure you are getting adequate amounts of sleep. Eat well and work out regularly. Recognize when you are feeling overworked and overwhelmed and slow down before you burn yourself out. Find healthy ways to cope with stress, like meditation or yoga or some kind of physical activity.
Of all the skills you need to live a productive and successful life, learning how to keep calm is probably one of the most valuable. Others need to know that you are reliable and trustworthy. They need to know you aren’t going to turn and run at the first sign of disaster. Show them you can remain calm through it all, and you will go far.