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10 Tricks Successful People Use to Stay Calm in Stressful Situations

10 Tricks Successful People Use to Stay Calm in Stressful Situations

From CEOs to firefighters to fighter-jet pilots, the ability to stay calm in a difficult situation can mean the difference between success and failure. Research has shown that the mind works best when it is in a moderate state of arousal (not too stressed, but not too calm either). So how do successful people stay cool under pressure?

1. They remain positive. 

Having a negative attitude about the challenges you face is a great way to snowball into feeling overwhelmed. Look at obstacles as opportunities to learn and tough assignments as chances to show the world (and especially your boss) what you are made of. Be confident in your ability to slay whatever dragon lies ahead.

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2. They avoid caffeine.

The last thing you need when you have a lot on your plate is too much caffeine in your system. Caffeine will only further stimulate the areas of your brain that are causing you to feel overwhelmed in the first place. Opt for water instead.

Pascal Lego
    Pascal via flickr

    3. They make jokes.

    If you ever find yourself on a deck of an aircraft carrier, you are likely to hear pilots ripping on each other and joking around about the imminent danger they face on a daily basis. It isn’t that they don’t feel fear; it is that they manage it through humor. Laughter releases hormones that calm you down and allow you to be in control.

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    4. They identify the stressor. 

    Zeroing in on what exactly is making you feel stressed out is the first step in overcoming those feelings. Being able to identify the enemy allows you to figure out what its weaknesses are and which of your strengths are most likely to be useful in any given situation. Just like with a child who is afraid of the dark, things are never as scary when you fully understand them.

    5. They decompress.

    Taking time to step back from a situation and relax can help you reorient your thoughts and view things more clearly. Take a walk, read a book, or watch a movie. Just do something to take your mind off the situation that is getting you worked up. You will be much more effective at problem solving once you have taken time to rejuvenate your mind.

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    6. They reframe the situation. 

    Once you have taken the time to decompress, you may have a completely different perspective on a difficult situation. Embrace new ways of thinking and view problems from all sides. You may realize you were, in fact, trying to climb up the mountain’s sheer cliff face rather than the smoothly winding trail on the opposite side.

    Nomadic Lass planning
      Nomadic Lass via flickr

      7. They make a plan.

      Once you fully understand what you are up against, you can develop a step by step plan to get you to your goal. One tactic successful people use is back-casting, where they think about the final objective they are working towards and identify each step they need to reach on the way to achieving it. From there it is easy to determine when each step needs to be completed to stay on track. Nothing helps you stay calm like a clear plan of attack.

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      8. They get some sleep.

      Just because you have deadlines to meet and people to impress doesn’t mean that you can sacrifice sleep to get there. Not only will losing sleep damage your health, it will make you generally less effective. A tired mind is one that is not able to think clearly and it is hard to stay calm when you are living in a mental fog. We can only learn and adapt when we are rested.

      9. They ask for help.

      Being afraid to ask for help is a sure-fire way to feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed is bad enough without making yourself feel alone as well. Take advantage of the people in your network who have skills and knowledge that you don’t. More often than not, people are happy to help in any way they can. Feeling like someone has your back is a great way to stay calm.

      oatsy40 relax
        oatsy40 via flickr

        10. They mentally prepare.

        Before projects even begin, successful people train their brains to stay calm when the pressure is on. It comes naturally with experience, but you can consciously work at it too. Play games that encourage mental flexibility under a time limit. The Internet is full of puzzles and games that can help keep your brain in tip-top shape and ready for the next challenge.

        Featured photo credit: Maria Ly via flickr.com

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        Last Updated on August 16, 2018

        16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

        16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

        The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

        How about a unique spin on things?

        These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

        1. Empty your mind.

        It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

        Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

        Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

        Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

        How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

        2. Keep certain days clear.

        Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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        This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

        3. Prioritize your work.

        Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

        Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

        Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

        How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

        4. Chop up your time.

        Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

        5. Have a thinking position.

        Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

        What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

        6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

        To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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        Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

        7. Don’t try to do too much.

        OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

        8. Have a daily action plan.

        Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

        Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

        9. Do your most dreaded project first.

        Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

        10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

        The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

        11. Have a place devoted to work.

        If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

        But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

        Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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        Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

        12. Find your golden hour.

        You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

        Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

        Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

        Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

        13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

        It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

        By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

        Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

        14. Never stop.

        Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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        Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

        There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

        15. Be in tune with your body.

        Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

        16. Try different methods.

        Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

        It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

        Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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