Have you ever wished you could keep your cool more often? Have you ever wondered how some people are better at staying calm? Would you like to be more patient and even-tempered?
Well, if you’re human (and I suspect you are) then you probably answered “YES” to all of the questions above.
Why? Because we all get frustrated and we all feel upset sometimes and we all find patience much more difficult than we’d like! This is normal; this is part of being human!
It’s not possible to stay calm and collected ALL the time but it is possible to achieve it more often; and here’s how…
- Recognise the early warning signs – anger and frustration and stress don’t come from nowhere. There’s always a build-up and getting in early is one of the best ways to get on top of negative emotions more effectively. So, work out what your early warning signs are and take action as soon as possible
- Label your emotions – once you’ve recognised that you’re feeling stressed or upset, try to label exactly what it is you’re feeling. This in itself has been proven to be a powerful and effective strategy
- Breathe and practice calmness – don’t wait until you get upset. Practice calming techniques, such as relaxation or meditation or mindfulness as often as you can. Mastering these extremely useful “tools” will allow you to use them purposefully when you really need to
- Fight back against the 3 P’s – Sometimes we think one bad thing is everything, that it will last forever, and that it’s all our fault. But ask yourself…is it really pervasive? Will it really persist? And to what extent should you take it personally?
- Accept and give up the need to control – another “mistake” many of us make is to try to change the unchangeable and/or control the uncontrollable. Calmness, however, often comes from accepting whatever is, and from knowing we can’t (and shouldn’t try to) control everything
- Beware of “shoulds” and don’t allow perfectionism to spoil what’s good – expecting things to be different from what they are (including ourselves and others) is a common cause of irritation and disappointment for many of us. Unrealistic expectations can often be found in “should statements” but watching out for these, including expectations of perfection, can protect against unnecessary and extreme distress and help us return to calm relatively quickly
- Reach out and ask for help – You don’t have to do everything or cope with everything on your own! We all need help sometimes; and knowing there are others who’re willing and able to assist can make a significant difference in your attempts to stay cool, calm and collected
- Build into your life, long term stress-management tools such as mindfulness, exercise, laughing and time for reflection (including journaling) – too often we only try to manage stress when it hits; and this is something we all definitely need to do. But in addition, we should also be working on preventative strategies; things that will keep our baseline levels of calm high and our base levels of stress low. In short, then, take care of your health and wellbeing every day; don’t just wait until the tough times hit
- Simplify – and following on from the previous point, we can often unknowingly create more stress in our lives than we want or need by overcomplicating things. In contrast, we can enjoy more calm by keeping things simple. So, remove anything and everything from your life that’s unnecessary, that’s not adding value, or that’s regularly causing stress. If you can’t remove it, find a way to deal with it!
- What would “X” do? – And finally, when in doubt, find a hero and learn from them. Who do you know who stays calm more often than not? Who’s your contentment role-model? Whoever they are, ask yourself what would they do!