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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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        Published on April 25, 2019

        How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

        How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

        Have you ever felt limited in your abilities to do something you really wanted to pursue? Maybe it was an ambition you had, or an idea to start something. Perhaps it was an opportunity that came your way, but you weren’t able to take it because something held you back.

        Often, we’re unable to progress towards our goals because such obstacles stand in the way. We let our limitations stop or overshadow our abilities to see through to a goal.

        Yet, there’s one thing that we rarely think of to use when trying to overcome limitations.

        Creativity.

        What is Creativity?

        When I say creativity, I’m not talking about an innate talent. Creativity is a much needed, but often neglected, skill that everyone has! It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input.

        Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems.

        Everything, including brilliant inventions, cannot come from nothing; it all derives from some sort of inspiration. Creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.

        From this perspective, you can find creativity at play in many areas.

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        For example, Mark Zuckerburg rapidly became successful by taking the previously existing concept of social media, and combining it with an incredibly simple interface that appealed to a much wider audience. Uber and Lyft combined the idea of a traditional taxi service with an incredibly efficient smartphone app.

        Both of these examples connect different ideas, find common ground amongst the differences, and create a completely new idea out of them.

        That’s creativity in a nutshell, and anyone can improve theirs.

        Limitations are Actually Opportunities

        The advantage of using creativity, is to help you see limitations as opportunities. Take any limitation that you may find yourself facing, is there a way to look at things differently?

        Let me illustrate with an example.

        On the day of my son’s 5th birthday, my wife and I arranged a party for him at a children’s adventure park. His friends and family were all invited, and the plan was to have a long, fun day out to celebrate.

        However, the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

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        At Lifehack, we pride ourselves on a healthy work-life balance, so I wasn’t concerned about taking the day off to celebrate. But, on the big day, a call came through to my phone.

        It was a manager from Lifehack. He excitedly told me that a group of investors were quite interested in our business proposition, and were wanting to meet later that day.

        This was great news! A potential investment could be coming our way. But, I was already miles away from home and the office. Plus, it was my son’s birthday…

        I asked if I could call him back once we got settled into the park.

        To be honest, I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to make it. Asking to reschedule would be a risky request, but there was no way that I was going to miss my son’s party.

        My son could sense something was off, and he asked me what was wrong. So I let him know that I just received a call about a meeting today, but also told him not to worry as today was about celebrating his birthday.

        But like all kids, he continued questioning me…

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        “But daddy, is it important?”

        “No, of course not,” I bluffed.

        Then, with childlike intuition and creativity, he asked: “Can’t you just meet with them at the park?”

        And, then it struck me! This was the idea that I was missing.

        Even though my son didn’t quite understand that it would not be possible for the investors to meet me at the park, it made sense for me to simply do a video call!

        I could miss 25 minutes of the party to do a quick call while the rest of the party walked through the aquarium. And, in the end, that was exactly what happened.

        I called back my teammate and asked him to briefly explain to the investors why I couldn’t be there in person to meet, but would be happy to join via video. I took the call, and was able to spend the rest of the day at the park with my son.

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        Not only did my son enjoy his birthday, his simple idea led to a successful investment meeting that allowed us to get funding for a new project.

        This is where I was able to turn a limitation into an opportunity that enabled me to reach my success.

        Creativity is One Key to Success

        When you use your creative ability to turn your limitations and setbacks into opportunities, you’ll find doors opening for you in areas you may have never imagined.

        Remember, your attitude is also important when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. That’s because a positive attitude transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

        Check out this article to learn more about how you can tune your attitude towards positivity.

        So, the next time you’re feeling limited by your abilities, setbacks or challenges, don’t give up. Really look at the situation, and see how you can leverage on your creativity to find an alternative solution.

        Featured photo credit: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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