The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. – James Allen
Finding a State of Calmness
There’s a lot going on in this world. In fact, there’s probably a lot going on in your life at the moment. So much to do, so little time, and just too much uncertainty. You probably feel as though you are constantly fighting against the odds while trying to make your way in this world.
As you work through your problems you need to fight through stress, anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, overwhelm and a plethora of other emotions. These emotions leave you in a frantic state, which negatively affects your health and hurts your ability to make good decisions.
The one certainty about life is that it will put you under intense pressure situation — forcing you to make tough decisions that will either hurt or hinder your progress. And when emotions get the better of you, you will most likely fail to capitalize on your greatest opportunities moving forward. In fact, your ability to stay calm under pressure could be the difference between the success you desire to create in your life, and complete and utter failure.
The Value of Staying Calm Under Pressure
Developing the ability to stay calm under pressure situations means that you are less likely to suffer from the effects of stress, anxiety, and worry. Your calm approach will also lead to better health and higher levels of productivity. It will provide you with a sense of control over the events and circumstances of your life, and most certainly a better sense of control over yourself, your thoughts and emotions. On top of this, staying calm under pressure will help improve your ability to focus on the right things, at the right time, and in the right way. It will allow you to better communicate your needs to other people, and help you make more effective, intelligent and emotional-free decisions.
The Qualities of Calmness
In order to reap the rewards that a state of calmness can bring into your life, you will need to become more mindful. Being more mindful means being more centered and focused on the moment. It means letting go of past regrets. It means redirecting your mind away from current stresses, and it also means refocusing yourself away from future worries. It’s all about being mindful — being present in the moment — because it’s in the moment where you will find the answers you need that will help you solve your life’s problems.
A state of calmness also requires patience. Sometimes you need a little patience and time to understand the events and circumstances of your life. Sometimes you need the patience to gain a deeper insight into your predicament. And the only way you will find true and unadulterated patience in a state of calmness.
Likewise, calmness also requires optimism and faith. You need optimism to help you find the motivation you need to journey through the thick dark fog of your problems. And you need faith to help you find your way when you lose yourself in the turmoil of your emotions. Optimism will help you find the desire you need to move forward, and faith will provide you with the courage you need to persist through the obstacles that stand in your way.
How to Respond to Pressure Situations?
Before moving along, it’s important you gain some clarity about how you typically respond to pressure situations and the resulting impact that this has on your life. Ask yourself:
What things cause me to lose my cool?
What specific people or circumstances cause me to succumb to pressure?
How do these triggers affect me on an emotional and physical level?
How do I typically respond during these pressure situations?
Why do I respond in this way?
Does responding in this way hurt me? How?
Does responding in this way help me? How?
Answering these questions honestly and thoroughly will hopefully provide you with a deeper insight into your patterns of behavior. Use these insights to help you make better choices moving forward.
Six Things to do When Under Pressure Situations
As you go about your day, there will be moments when you will face pressure situations. Something unexpected might happen, your emotions will spin out of control, and it will momentarily seem as though the entire weight of the world has fallen on your shoulders. It’s moments like these that a steady hand and calm mind are of utmost importance. In fact, the decision you make at this very moment could either help you improve the situation or might very well make things much worse than they already are.
In order to make the right decision, you will need to stay calm, centered and focused on the right things and in the right way. Here are some suggestions:
Immediately Remove Yourself from the Situation
When under pressure, take time to immediately remove yourself from the situation temporarily. It’s during moments like these that you need time and space to think and consider the possibilities moving forward.
Having removed yourself physically and emotionally from the situation, take time now to clarify why you’re feeling pressured. Ask yourself:
Why am I suddenly feeling pressured?
What has triggered my feelings?
What has ruffled my emotions?
Has something outside of me triggered my emotions?
Am I seeing things clearly?
Am I interpreting the situation correctly?
Is it possible that my perspective of this situation has triggered my emotions?
Sometimes the things that trigger your emotions are phantoms. You’re feeling pressured, but the pressure isn’t coming from an external force, but rather from within — from inside you. You are in fact creating the emotional pressures within yourself, and this is causing you to feel pressure externally. This is an illusion. It’s a trick your mind is playing on you. It’s important you recognize this because changing things might only require a simple shift of perspective on your part.
Your next task is to clarify your desired outcome. Ask yourself:
What do I want to gain from this situation?
What is my desired outcome?
What’s preventing me from having what I want? Why?
It’s important to gain clarity about what it is you want because unless you a clear about what you want, you will fail to make the right decisions that will help you move through this pressure situation successfully. Moreover, gaining clarity about your desired outcome will help you filter out unnecessary and irrelevant factors. It will allow you to re-prioritize the things you need to focus on to help you get through this difficult emotional experience. Ask yourself:
What’s not important or relevant here?
What’s most important here? Why?
Where must I begin to successfully get through this pressure situation?
Prioritizing things accordingly helps you to focus on the most important and relevant factors that will allow you to move through this pressure situation successfully. In fact, the moment you pinpoint these critical areas is the moment you can begin working your way through this situation in a more intelligent and calming manner. No longer should the circumstances of the situation phase you. Instead, you should now be in full control of your emotional responses, and can now calmly and sensibly work through your problems.
If after going through these sets of questions you are still finding your emotions overwhelming and difficult to deal with, then consider the lighter-side of the situation. Ask yourself:
What’s funny about this?
Hopefully, the answer to this question will help shift your perspective about your circumstances. It might even help you relax and calm yourself down. And that might be all you need to move through this situation successfully.
Always be Attentive
During pressure situations, it’s absolutely paramount that you pay attention to the details. It’s in the details that you will find the answers and the opportunities you need to move forward.
When a pressure situation presents itself, it’s natural to immediately become overwhelmed by the circumstances. And because you’re overwhelmed, you naturally bundle all your concerns and problems into one big messy pile of puzzle pieces in your head. There is no separation between things. Everything becomes one thing, and this is what overwhelms you.
The better way to handle yourself is to pay attention to the details. Be attentive to the little things, to your behavior, to other people’s behavior, to the circumstances and all the external things going on around you. The more attentive you are, the more you will pick-up. And as a result you will no longer bundle everything into one big uncontrollable problem, instead, you will see things as individual pieces that are part of the larger puzzle that you now need to figure out how to solve.
Use Empowering Language
The mindset you bring into pressure situation is absolutely critical. Part of this mindset is the language you use to talk to yourself during these difficult emotional moments. Your language can either help you calm yourself down, or it can lead you down the path of overwhelm and panic. For instance, saying:
- I can handle this…
- I am in control…
- I am calm…
- I am focused…
This type of language will make you feel centered, calm and in control of yourself and your emotions. And because you’re in control of your emotional responses, you will now be able to make better decisions moving forward that will help you to work through this pressure situation far more effectively.
Ask Calming Questions
Another aspect of empowering language is the process of asking the right kinds of questions that will help you to stay calm, centered and focused on the right things. For instance, during pressure situations try asking yourself:
What’s good about this?
What are the benefits of staying calm?
How will a calm mind help me work through this situation successfully?
These types of questions will help you maintain control of your emotions. They will also help you to redirect your emotions in a more positive and helpful way.
Avoid Unhelpful Thinking Habits
The language you use and the questions you ask yourself translate into the thoughts you indulge in during pressure situations. These thoughts can either be empowering and helpful, or they can be limiting and unhelpful.
Examples of unhelpful thoughts include blaming yourself, blaming other people, or blaming your circumstances. Unhelpful thoughts can also include over-analyzing the situation and getting lost in too many details; magnifying the negatives of the situation; and/or over-dramatizing events and circumstances in unhelpful ways. All of these methods of thinking about your situation are not helpful. In fact, thinking this way will make you feel absolutely miserable and will prevent you from moving forward in a calm and controlled fashion.
Instead, focus on things you can control. And that control comes from within yourself. You can control the language you use and the questions you ask yourself. Once you have these things under your control, you will likewise gain control over your emotional responses and thoughts. And this will naturally lead to a greater sense of calmness and emotional stability, which is exactly what you need to help you get through this pressure situation successfully.
Consider Seeking Support
When you are facing a pressure situation, you are left with two choices. You can either try and work through the situation by yourself, or you can seek the support of people who have had experience in this area and will, therefore, be able to help you work through this successfully.
If you try and work through the situation by yourself, you may make mistakes and may hit roadblocks that could potentially derail your efforts temporarily. However, if you take the time to speak with someone who has gone through something similar, they may very well provide you with the guidance you need to help you move through this situation successfully. Moreover, their support may provide you with the confidence you need to stay centered, calm and relaxed moving through this difficult moment of your life.
Guidelines for Finding Ways to Calm Down and Relax
In order to handle pressure situations far more effectively, you will need to become a more relaxed and calm individual. Calmness is, of course, a state-of-mind, however, in order to get to that state-of-mind, you will need to adopt some new habits, behaviors and potentially shake up your routine a little to allow time for more relaxation and periods of self-reflection.
Here are some suggestions to help you find ways to relax and reflect more throughout the day:
Build a Calming Environment
Calmness, of course, begins from within, on a psychological level. However, it’s difficult to maintain an inner sense of calmness if your environment is frantic, chaotic and disorganized. As such, it’s important to build an environment that will make it easier for you to maintain a calm mental state-of-mind.
Building a relaxing and nurturing working environment depends entirely on what specifically makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. You might like to install some colored lights, play peaceful music, use tranquil nature sounds, stimulate the senses with aromatherapy, or maybe even use a well-placed fountain or some candles to help bring a warm, peaceful and friendly energy into the room. The choice is completely yours to make.
Build a Calming Daily Routine
There may very well be moments of your day that are frantic and hectic. These moments are simply a part of your working life, and it can certainly be difficult to work around them. Don’t resist these moments. Let them be. It sometimes might not be possible to change part of your routine or schedule, however, what’s important is that you balance your routine and make time for yourself, for relaxation and for self-reflection. You can do this by taking nature walks in the local park. You can also do this by taking a warm bath at the end of the day, or maybe a massage during the middle of the day can help extinguish stress, anxiety and worry from your body.
Consider also taking time to nourish your spirit throughout the day with prayer, meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi and other practices that will help you keep your emotions calm, relaxed and centered. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as for short periods of time throughout your day you can find the time to unwind a little to help you gain some perspective about your life and circumstances.
Use the Power of Visualization
Find a quiet place without distractions where you can lie down or at the very least sit down comfortably. If that’s not possible, then sit where you are or lie down on the floor while listening to tranquil music. Initially, allow your mind to wander and just find its place in the moment. However, after a few minutes take control of the images forming in your imagination and imagine a tranquil place — a sanctuary of sorts that you can escape to. This is a place filled with all the things that make you feel comfortable, at peace and relaxed.
Spend five to ten minutes at a time exploring this place, relaxing within this imaginary world, and allowing all your stresses and worries to melt away. In fact, use the time you have within this sanctuary to think about your life, circumstances, and problems. Just maybe within this place, you will find the necessary perspective and the answers you need to help you get through the pressures of life.
Later, whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take some time to come back to this place to help ground yourself during moments of uncertainty.
Learn About Breath Control
While visualizing and/or meditating, it’s important that you breathe correctly in ways that will help you to relax and center yourself emotionally. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is one method used that can help you maintain your composure and relax your body.
Diaphragmatic breathing requires that you breathe-in through your diaphragm for four seconds, then hold your breath for another four seconds, and then breathe out for the final four seconds, and then begin again. Doing this for up to five minutes at a time can help you feel more centered and relaxed. With more emotional composure, you will find the strength you need to move through your problems successfully.
Use the Power of Metaphors
Metaphors are absolutely wonderful tools you can use to help gain a proper perspective on the problems and circumstances confronting your reality. Use them to help you see your problems in a different light. Or use them to find more strength and comfort in the moment.
Metaphors will provide you with a different view of yourself and your circumstances. This shift of perspective might be all you need to stay relaxed, calm and composed during pressure situations.
For instance, your natural tendency and instinct might be to panic a little when you’re suddenly confronted with an unexpected problem. In such instances, you will most likely blow the problem out of proportion, which will have a tendency to overwhelm your senses, while also causing you emotional distress. Instead of picturing your problem as this gigantic mountain that you now must climb, imagine it instead as a tiny ant. See it as a tiny little ant walking beneath your feet, and ask yourself:
What if my problem was a tiny little ant?
How would I solve this problem?
What specific approach would I take?
The benefit of looking at your problem in this way is that you are no longer seeing it as this big dragon that you must slay. Instead, you are imagining it as something small — as something you can easily control and influence. This will have a tendency to calm your mind while helping you gain the proper perspective you need to solve this problem.
Another metaphor you could use is to imagine your problem as mouldable clay. Here your problem is no longer this stiff titanium wall that’s standing between you and your desired outcome. Instead, it’s something you can mold and reshape to your heart’s content. Ask yourself:
What if my problem was mouldable clay?
How would I potentially shape this problem?
How could I mold this problem to my advantage?
In the previous couple of examples you were using metaphors for your problems, however, imagine you could now also use metaphors.
For instance, imagine yourself as water. Or imagine yourself as a soaring bird. Or imagine yourself as gentle clouds rolling across the sky. Ask yourself:
How would I approach this problem if I was liquid water?
What new perspectives could I gain if I was a souring eagle?
What if I approached this problem from the perspective of a gentle rolling cloud?
These metaphors will certainly not always provide you with instant answers. They do require some thought and contemplation. Answers and new perspectives will come the more life you give to each of the metaphors you use. What’s most important is that you use them to help separate yourself from the problem in order to gain some new and unique insights and perspectives that will help you to move forward in a more positive way.
Build Your Emotional Coping Skills
Building your emotional coping skills means you are learning to manage to proactively handle your emotional responses. This often begins with developing a deeper understanding of the meaning of each of your emotions, and of your emotional tendencies.
Succeeding here means that you will no longer be at the mercy of your emotions. You will instead be in control of your emotional destiny. No longer will life’s pressure situations or problems overwhelm you because you have finally become a fully aware and present individual who understands and appreciates the value that every emotion has to offer.
Building your emotional coping skills will, of course, take some time and effort. However, everything worthwhile takes time. It is after all only within each experience that you will find the lessons you need to help build your emotional intelligence.
Long-term Lifestyle Changes to Help You Stay Calm
In order to become a more serene, calm and peaceful person in the long-run, it’s important that you make some long-term lifestyle changes that will provide you with the ability to more readily control your emotional responses. However, it’s not only about the lifestyle, it’s also about the mindset you bring into every moment of your life. In fact, both lifestyle and mindset go hand-in-hand and work together to help you stay calm under pressure.
Here are some suggestions to help you stay calm under pressure for the long-term:
Get Good Quality Sleep and Exercise
Good quality sleep and exercise is absolutely paramount. Getting good quality sleep will help you become much more emotionally resilient. Likewise, regular exercise will provide you with the energy you need to consciously and physically work through difficulties far more effectively.
When you’re well rested and when your body is feeling fit, you will naturally have a more calming energy about you. It will be much easier for you to stay relaxed during uncertain times and difficult moments. You will find yourself feeling more centered, focused and in control. This will provide you with the clarity of mind you need to work through emotional issues far more successfully.
Eat a Well Balanced Diet
Moving on from the previous point, it’s also very important to eat well. Eating a well balanced and healthy diet, keeping yourself hydrated with water throughout the day, and avoiding the habit of indulging in addictions will help you to manage your emotions, and your responses to the events and circumstances of your life far more effectively.
In particular avoid drugs, alcohol, sugar and caffeine addictions. These addictions will put you on edge, making it very difficult to stay calm and centered throughout the day.
Spend Time Simplifying Your Life
It’s difficult to stay calm and centered when you’re living in a complicated mess. When there’s too much clutter, when you’re constantly trying to find things, when you have too many commitments and responsibilities — far more then you can handle — that is when things become very messy. This is a clear indication that your life is far too complicated. It’s very difficult to find calmness from within if you live in a hectic and complex world.
Commit yourself today to the process of simplifying your life and environment. For instance, take time to organize yourself and your things. Make sure to find a place for everything, and put everything in its place. Be sure to de-clutter your environment, to eliminate all non-essential things, or simply pack them away out of sight and out of mind.
It’s also important to avoid living a frantic lifestyle. Having too many commitments and responsibilities don’t give you enough time for yourself and your own emotional needs. What you need is space, and a clean uncluttered environment to help you unwind, relax, and calm down. This is the sort of environment that will encourage moments of self-reflection that you can use to help improve your decisions moving forward.
Physically Slow Down
Living at a frantic pace can work quite well for some people. In fact, there are people who thrive on urgency, while still maintaining a calm and centered energy. However, this kind of lifestyle isn’t for everyone because it can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety.
If you typically suffer from stress and anxiety throughout your day, then it’s a clear indication that you are living too frantically. There’s just too much going on in your life, and at the moment you’re just unable to handle yourself or your circumstances. In such instances, it’s important to begin slowing things down. This, of course, isn’t easy. There’s just so much to do and so little time. However, what you must do is re-prioritize things in order to help create the space and time you need to slow down.
Slowing down doesn’t necessarily mean that you do everything more slowly. It does, however, mean that you do things more consciously. Therefore instead of rushing through a task, think through the task and take a little time to consider how to best work on this task in the most effective and time-efficient way.
Slowing down also means finding time for periods of relaxation. It means taking regular thought-breaks. Thought-breaks are times throughout the day when you take several minutes to separate yourself from your tasks and activities to just sit down and think about your decisions and actions. These moments of self-reflection could very well provide you with some interesting insights that will help you work much more productively moving forward.
Consistently Build Your Support Network
During moments of great emotional upheaval, it’s important to have people whom you can talk to and reach out to. These people are part of your support network. They are there to assist you during difficult moments of your life, and you are also there to assist them in their emotional and physical struggles.
Take some time now to consider the kind of people that could add value to your life. Also, consider the people you could readily assist and support. Jot down the names of all these individuals and commit yourself to regularly staying in touch with them. You could even create an emotional Mastermind group. This is where you invite like-minded individuals to a get-together once a week or month where you discuss problems, concerns, and other emotional struggles.
Your support network will provide you with an anchor you can use during difficult emotional moments of your life. They will instill within you the calmness you need when there are emotional storms brewing around you.
Prepare for Difficulties in Advance
One of the best ways to stay calm, focused and centered at all times, is to prepare for seemingly unexpected setbacks, difficulties, and problems in advance. Of course, you might be thinking that if something is unexpected, then there’s absolutely no way to prepare for it. Therefore let’s look at it another way: Taking time to think about and preparing for possible future scenarios brings them from the realm of the “unknown” into your conscious awareness. Therefore, what was unexpected before, is now something you are ready to tackle in the moment or in the future.
When you have a full and complete awareness of what you are going to do in the next moment when things change, you will naturally be more calm, collected and emotionally centered. It’s often those unexpected moments when events and circumstances catch you by surprise that lead to emotional upheaval and overwhelm. However, given the fact that you are now prepared for the possibilities, you will, therefore, be in a much more favorable position to stay calm and collected during these difficult moments of your life.
Think Through Your Decisions in Advance
Moving on from the previous point, it’s also important that you reflect upon the consequences of your choices, decisions, and actions in advance. It’s very possible that certain decisions can lead you down one path, and other decisions will lead you down a completely different path. Both of these paths have consequences and certain outcomes that you must keep in mind. Some of these outcomes might lead you into an emotional tornado, while other outcomes might be a little more favorable.
Taking into consideration the short and long-term possibilities of your choices and decisions will put you in the driver’s seat of your life. Your mind will be prepared and ready to deal with numerous scenarios and situations. And when your mind is prepared, your emotions will be steady and you will respond proactively to the events and circumstances of your life. This will leave you feeling calmer and centered moving forward.
One of the best ways to identify the potential consequences of your choices and decisions is to simply take some time to sit and reflect in a quiet place. Just sit, and visualize “if I make this choice right now, it will most likely result in…”. Take time to consider all the possibilities, and then prepare yourself mentally and physically for all the possible outcomes.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I’m confident you will gain tremendous value from using the accompanying IQ Matrix for coaching or self-coaching purposes. This mind map provides you with a quick visual overview of the article you just read. The branches, interlinking ideas, and images model how the brain thinks and processes information. It’s kind of like implanting a thought into your brain – an upgrade of sorts that optimizes how you think about these concepts and ideas. 🙂
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 5 Things Fighter Pilots Know About Performance Under Pressure @ Inc.
- 9 Unconventional Ways to Let Go @ Marc and Angel
- 10 Strategies to Keep Calm Under Pressure at Work @ Lifehacker
- Creating Calm and Releasing Anxiety @ Tiny Buddha
- How Successful People Stay Calm @ Forbes
- How to be Calm Under Pressure @ Forbes
- How to Cope, Survive and Thrive Under Pressure @ Mind Tools
- How to Keep Your Cool @ Dumb Little Man
- How to Stay Cool Under Pressure @ Psychology Today
- Staying Calm Under Pressure Tells a lot About a Leader @ LA Times
- The Neuro-biology of Grace Under Pressure @ Psychology Today
- The Secret to Handling Pressure Like a Samurai @ The Week
- Top 10 Strategies to Help You Stay Calm Under Pressure @ Huffington Post
- Use Neuroscience to Remain Calm Under Pressure @ Inc.