Nobody is immune to feeling stressed. But staying calm during a stressful situation is a superpower many positive people have learned to develop over time.
Below, I have listed 4 tips to help you stay calm under pressure. Whether you’re at work, on stage giving a funny keynote speech, or simply need a break, these tips will surely help you stay positive through it all.
So, let’s dive into how you can remain CALM.
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Use the acronym CALM to reduce stress and bring your focus back to the present. You can use these strategies in every area of your life.
- Cool down
- Assess your surroundings
- Loosen your jaw
- Make a plan
Whether you feel stress and pressure from work, at home, or elsewhere, begin identifying how you can take back control in a stressful situation and build confidence in your calm demeanor.
#1. Cool down
You might think your feelings only live inside your head. But they can actually manifest in your body through your sympathetic nervous system.
When emotions bubble up, you feel your heart rate start to speed up. Your internal temperature rises. Your palms perspire when you’re overwhelmed or your cheeks get flushed when you’re embarrassed.
All of this is completely normal. In fact, every person you’ve ever met in your entire life has probably experienced these exact same things.
I experience this a lot before stepping onto a stage to emcee. But over time, I’ve learned to cool down my body first in order to take back control over any emotion like stress or pressure.
Address your physiological response before your emotions
When I say “cool down,” I mean it literally. Drink a glass of iced water. Take a walk and get some fresh air.
Literally cooling down your body and your brain helps to rid of your body’s fight-or-flight response. As you cool down, you’re actually activating the mammalian diving reflex, kicking on your parasympathetic nervous system.
This nervous system is responsible for kickstarting the process of relaxation. So the next time you feel overwhelmed and start to worry, stop what you’re doing and cool down.
#2. Assess your surroundings
When you feel stressed, it’s easy to lose sight of your surroundings. You’ve heard the phrase, “blind with rage,” right?
Well, there’s some truth to that. When you’re stressed, it’s difficult to think through things rationally and logically.
Whether it’s concerning a work project you’re acting as lead on or a fight you’ve had with someone at home, any disruption to your daily flow can feel overwhelming.
In fact, a recent study found that anger expression was associated with altered amygdala responses in the brain. That’s why it is imperative to take a moment to stay calm and bring back your sense of reality.
Practice the 5-4-3-2-1 technique to ground yourself in the present
The 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique utilizes all of your senses. You can easily do this sitting quietly at your desk.
Start with some deep breathing, then acknowledge or mentally list out five things that you can see around you. Next, acknowledge four things that you can touch around you.
Then, acknowledge three things you can hear. Two things you can smell. And lastly, one thing you can taste.
Once you’ve focused on each of these senses, take a final deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.
See? Doesn’t that to-do list seem a lot easier to manage now? Just take it one task at a time – the same way you breathe one breath at a time.
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#3. Loosen your jaw
Most people don’t realize that they’re keeping stress in their bodies. Take a moment to identify right now if you’re clenching your jaw.
If you are, loosen it. If your shoulders are tight, relax them down your back. If your fists are clenched, shake them out.
Many people use exercise as a means to combat anxiety and panic and for good reason too. When you’re “too in your head,” it helps to get back into your body.
Take slow, deep breaths as you do a full body scan
Visualize a scanner starting at the top of your head and trickling its way down to your toes. As you scan the different parts of you, focus on each part and notice whether you’re holding any tension there.
If you are, breathe into that tension to release it. Continue scanning until you’ve reached your toes, and focus on your breathing all the while.
This is one of the many strategies that people use to help them relax into sleep or even during a meditation session. The process can feel difficult to some who are just starting out.
But over time, you’ll be able to sit and identify what physical areas require some extra breath.
#4. Make a plan
Once you finally feel calm, it’s time to make a plan. Stress can make you feel out of control, but you can always take that power back.
Write down all the tasks you need to accomplish and focus on which task needs to be accomplished first. Just like with any project, it’s important to take things one step at a time until you can master the entire thing.
Stressful situations are more manageable when you feel calmer
Many people think they don’t have the time to stay calm. But you may have noticed that the strategies I listed above don’t take very long to do.
In fact, dedicating just a couple of minutes to breathing deeply can help you maximize the next couple of hours you have at work. If you let that stress and pressure get to you, you’ll eventually break.
Then, you’ll spend more time trying to catch back up. All of this is to say that breathing and staying calm are worthwhile strategies for you to implement during times of stress no matter where you are.
You may even find yourself becoming more productive once you have a handle on stress.
Putting aside some time each day to practice these positive techniques can help you stay calm and manage your tasks more effectively. Stress is an inevitable and sometimes essential part of life.
But that doesn’t mean you, your sleep, or your tasks should suffer because of it. When you practice the positive ability to stay calm, you invest in a more balanced and happier life.
Just remember to take things one task at a time.
You’ve got this!
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Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.