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22 Power-Actions Effective People Use to Stay Calm in Times of Stress

22 Power-Actions Effective People Use to Stay Calm in Times of Stress

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s so easy to get caught up and swept away in the craziness of things. Between taking care of the kids, long hours at work, running errands all over town, dealing with unpleasant people, and the countless other urgent things you must take care of during the day; you may find yourself feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and out of control.

Stress creates chaos in your mind and emotions and can very well cause you to disconnect from the present moment and give up control of yourself. Which is why it’s important to have a plan that will allow you to INSTANTLY cultivate calm and inner balance at times when outside forces suddenly throws you a curve-ball.

Why We (Involuntarily) Choose to Worry and Feel Stress.

Many people believe that worrying serves a positive purpose by helping to avoid bad things, preventing problems, preparing you for the worst, or discovering solutions. Worrying and stressing out tricks you into thinking you’re being productive by doing “something” which seems better than doing nothing; when in reality, you’re only effective when you’re focusing on actual, effective solutions.

Here are 22 power-actions effective people use to stay calm in times of stress. These tips can help you quickly identify stressors and achieve immediate soothing effects. Over time, they can also help you lead a healthier, happier, and a more balanced and peaceful life.

1. They Identify the Cause.

You may be annoyed by the slow motion driver on your way to your child’s school, feel hurt by someone’s insensitive comment, or disappointed because your boss took credit for the project you’ve been working so hard on at the office.

By identifying exactly WHAT you’re feeling and WHY, you will be able to deal with it faster and more effectively than by just blindly shooting in the dark.

2. They Choose Their Response.

You may not have the power to control the source of your stress, but you have complete control over your thoughts and response to it. Once you’ve identified the cause, you get to choose and decide to either immediately shake it off or face it head-on.

Here are some questions to help you decide your next step:

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  • Is the source of your stress from the past? Remember that the past no longer exist and that moment cannot be changed. No matter what’s happened before, recognize that you are here today, and you are OK. Your past does not define you or limit what is possible for you to achieve from this moment on.
  • Does it even matter? Consider how long the source of stress will affect you. Does one person’s hurtful opinions of you change the fact that 10 other people see you as one of the kindest, most amazing people ever to walk this earth? Will that annoying slow-driver from this morning take away the fun you’ll have on your awesome family vacation next month? Does that rude guy who cut in front of you in the grocery line get to decide whether or not your family will enjoy a delicious dinner tonight?
  • How much control do you have over the situation? You may have zero say over the sudden rainstorm on your wedding day, but you can choose to have the most Ah-Mazing time dancing in the rain with your new spouse and making memories with the people you love most!

3. They Focus on Breathing.

The practice of being in the moment with your breathing will help you release yourself from the chaos in your head and almost instantly improve your mood. Deep, focused breathing will help you become more grounded, bring you back to the present moment, and lower your stress level.

Here’s how:

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth. (Breathe using your diaphragm, just below your rib cage, not just from your chest.)
  2. Then inhale through your nose to the count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  4. Exhale completely through your mouth again.

Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

4. They Distract Their Thoughts.

Here are some quick and simple ideas to help give your brain a break:

  • Play a game. Video games, board games, card games, tic-tac-toe, whatever’s available! When I find myself stressing out over “nothing” and need to get out of my head, I challenge my teenager to a “win as many time in one-minute” game of Uno to quickly snap myself out of a funk.
  • Think about something else. Get your mind off the stress by thinking about something completely different. Focus on spotting as many objects of a specific color around you, or identify items in your space you’ve never really taken time to notice before.
  • Shift your thinking with touch. Trace a figure-eight on the palm of your hand. This helps release muscle tension on the spot and comes especially handy when you must deal with unpleasant people, in person.
  • Listen to Uplifting Music. According to some studies, you will immediately feel a positive shift by listening to music that lifts your spirit and frees your mind.

5. They Count Their Blessings.

Taking time to think of all that you’re grateful for helps improve your mood by reducing cortisol, a stress hormone. Research found that people who practiced an attitude of gratitude on a daily basis experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being.

Maintaining a gratitude journal makes it easy to get in the habit of focusing on all the positives in your life, and it’s a great tool to manage stress!

6. They Avoid Asking “What If?”

The stressful situation can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the many possibilities, the longer you will continue to feel uncomfortable. Avoid adding fuel to the fire and stop yourself from having to worry more than you already are.

7. They Focus on the Positives.

Consciously select something positive to think about… your goofy kids, a supportive significant other, your recent trip with friends, or a special event you’re looking forward to.

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When your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, however, this can be a challenge; so it’s a good practice to have a list of positives that you can immediately shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative. This is another benefit of keeping a gratitude journal. It makes reminding yourself of all the great things in your life that much easier, regardless of the current situation.

8. They Get Up and Move.

Time to hit the gym! Researchers found that a 40-minute workout can immediately boost your mood. In addition, physical activities such as jogging, inline skating, and hula hooping release feel-good chemicals and can be as beneficial as taking ­anti-depressants for mild depression.

Looking for something easier and more accessible? Slowly roll your shoulders back three or four times, using as much range of motion as you possibly can… then, roll them forward. Or a simple brisk walk while getting some fresh air outside will help as well!

My favorite? Dance! That’s right… shake what your mama gave you! Dancing combines two mood lifters: music and physical activity, so turn up the music and drop it like it’s hot!

9. They Stock Up on Vitamin D.

Getting out to enjoy some sun (or just letting the sunshine in through a window) will increase the levels of vitamin D to boost your mood. Talk about a quick, simple, and cost-free calming solution!

10. They Give Themselves a Time-Out.

Whether it’s a quiet walk at the park, treating yourself to a scoop (or three) of your favorite ice cream, watching that movie you’ve been wanting to see, or having tea with your friends, giving yourself a break will help you recharge and get your energy moving in a healthy direction.

Taking a hot bath with Epsom salt is a a very effective way to unwind as well. The salt makes your body feel more buoyant, helping your muscles relax while you soak in the tub.

11. They Surround Themselves With Positive, Supportive People.

Keep company with those who respect you and lift you up. Their supportive energy can help strengthen your ability to reflect on and deal with your concerns more effectively.

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12. They Laugh it Out.

A hearty laugh can instantly elevate your mood, reduce blood pressure and pain, decrease stress hormones, and boost immunity. So when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, find the funniest, silliest people to get the laughter started. If there are no funny people around, search online for funny videos, watch comedy movies, or browse through hilarious websites!

It’s also been reported that there’s no significant difference between real and “faked” laughter, so give it a try and feel the tension melt away!

13. They Cry it Out.

The pressure of keeping your negative feelings locked up can be incredibly stressful. Allowing yourself to cry and release the pressure can help ease your transition back to calm.

14. They Hug it Out.

Hugs are known to release endorphins, a chemical that helps you feel happy and satisfied. A big warm hug from a friend, loved one, or even your pet is one of the quickest, most effective ways to release stress and calm down!

15. They Chew it Out.

Studies show that gum chewing can reduce levels of stress hormones in the body. The act of repetitive chewing also enhance serotonin production which can improve your mood and help you reduce stress!

16. They Find Comfort in Dark Chocolate.

Dark chocolate is made with a high proportion of cocoa, which contains high amounts of phenethylamine that helps create a feeling of mild euphoria. So go ahead, indulge in the deliciousness for a calmer, less stressful you!

17. They Meditate or Pray.

Regardless of religion, prayer satisfies a basic need to feel that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, which helps reduce stress and feeling overwhelmed.

If prayer isn’t for you, try meditation. Research shows that regular mindfulness exercises can change brain structure to promote a sense of well-being.

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18. They Get Some Sleep.

Sleep is very important for your emotional and mental health. It allows your brain to recharge so that you wake up rested, alert, and clear headed.

Even a quick 20 minute power nap can do wonders for your mood!

19. They Eliminate Negative Self-Talk.

Identifying and acknowledging any negative thoughts about yourself as “just thoughts” and NOT facts, will help release you into a state of calm. We can be our harshest critic, especially during stressful times, so it’s important to remind ourselves that it’s okay trust ourselves and to be our own biggest supporter!

Keep in mind that unless you were just born into the world this very moment, you’ve already lived through other difficulties. Yet, you are here right now, and you are OK! Trust that you are capable of seeing yourself through this challenge just as you were able to in the past!

20. They Forgive.

Forgiveness is key to setting yourself free from pain caused by someone else’s poor choices. It does NOT mean you agree with them or have conceded to them. It means you will not allow yourself to be punished for what someone else has done.

Learn to quickly process any negative thoughts and feelings, then choose to release yourself from that damaging energy so you can move forward with a clear head and a light heart.

21. They Reframe Their Perspective.

Stress and worry are fueled by our own skewed perception of the situation in concern. So before you spend too much time drowning in something that may not even be worth stressing out over, take a minute to put the situation in perspective.

  • List specific things that are actually going wrong. Most people find that when they take this approach, they realize the problems that first appeared overwhelming can be easily resolved after all.
  • Think of what you would advise a friend or family to do if they were in the same situation. Looking at “the mess” from the outside helps you see things more clearly and it makes finding an effective solution so much easier!
  • Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could possibly happen?” By forcing yourself to face the very worst, you give yourself the power to find a solution by working backwards. This gives you the room you need to see things in perspective, as well as reassurance that you will be able to handle whatever might result from this.

22. They Ask for Help.

To be calm and effective, you need to be able to ask for help when you find yourself in a situation that’s too much for you to handle alone. Identify the supportive individuals in your life and seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Many times, other people will be able to spot a solution that you’ve missed because they have not been emotionally and mentally suffocated in the situation.

How do you calm yourself in times of stress? Are there more you’d add to the list? Share in the comments below!

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Carmen Sakurai

Mental Declutter, Stress Management & Burnout Prevention Coach. Feeling Stuck? Overwhelmed & No Energy? Let's Talk!

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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