On the outside, I’m the calmest person you’ll ever meet.
I’m quiet. I don’t make scenes in public. I don’t cry when something goes wrong or scream at someone when they make me angry. I take it all in my stride.
On the inside, my mind is racing.
I feel like I’m running around like a headless chicken. I’m stressing about all the things that
will could go wrong. Thinking about the conversations I’ve had during the day and wondering if I said something stupid or accidentally offended someone.
Maybe you’re not as cool and collected like me in public. Maybe you’re the kind of person who acts first and thinks later. Or keeps everything in until you can’t take it anymore and then explode.
But I bet you know what I’m talking about. The stress of everyday, the constant sense of anxiety, the Inner Mean Girl in your head always making you feel like you’re not good enough…
It’s something we’ve all come to accept as normal. But what if it wasn’t? What if you could go about your day feeling calm and relaxed most of the time?
Truth bomb: calm is not a feeling you have to wait for. It’s a habit you can practice every day.
The more you do, the more calmer you will become – both on the inside and on the outside – even during stressful situations.
Here are 5 simple ways to help you feel more calm and in control in any situation:
1. Take A Mental Break
Remember when you were a kid and your mum told you to count till 10 before reacting when your brother or sister made you mad?
It’s the same principle. Life will you throw you unexpected curveballs. People will annoy you. Things won’t go your way.
When this happens, distance yourself from the situation for a while instead of reacting immediately. This’ll give you time to calm down and mull things over with a clear head.
But how the heck can you distance yourself from a situation that’s driving you crazy?! Do something that relaxes you. It could be going for a walk. Listening to music. Meditating. Having a bubble bath. Watching funny cat videos on Youtube.
My fave way is to simply focus on my breath. In and out. In and out. In and out. I like it because I can do it everywhere, even in the middle of an important meeting with a client. Works every time.
I know what you’re going to say: “Gio, I’ve tried meditation but it did nothing for me. If anything, it had the opposite effect. As much as I tried to focus, my thoughts kept wandering away and that stressed me out even more!”
I get it. When I first started meditating, I felt exactly the same. I’d give it a go, get frustrated and give up. Until I started doing the breathing exercise above. Focusing on my breath had such a calming effect that I started to wonder what would happen if I could do it for longer.
I’ll tell you what happened: meditation helped me see my thoughts for what they actually are. Instead than reacting to any thought I had or trying to stop them, I just acknowledge them and let them go.
When you do it long enough, it becomes a habit in real life too. You’re noticing your thoughts, but you don’t react or ignore them. You simply let. Them. Go.
3. Don’t Take It Personally
Hands up if you assume people piss you off on purpose? Your colleague didn’t say hi to you this morning. What a bitch! Your husband forgot to buy groceries last night. He doesn’t care about you! A friend didn’t return the dress you lent her when she said she would. How dare she?!
Truth bomb: you don’t know what’s going on in their life. Maybe your colleague had terrible news the day before. Maybe your husband was too stressed about work and forgot. Maybe your friend was stuck at work and couldn’t return the dress on time and now she’s kicking herself up about it.
You don’t know so don’t jump to conclusions. The world and everyone you know aren’t against you. They’re just doing the best they can – like you. So don’t take anything like a personal affront. It’s just something that happened. Either talk to them and clear things out or let it go.
4. Start The Day On The Right Foot
Does this sound familiar? The alarm clock goes off at 7:am. You snooze it a few times before rushing out of bed. It’s starting to get late. You jump in the shower, get dressed, grab a quick coffee and off to work you go.
The day has barely started and you’re already all stressed out. Guess what the rest of your day is likely to be like? You have a better chance of having a calm day if you start your day with a calming morning ritual.
Wake up when the alarm goes off (no more snoozing!) and do one thing that relaxes you. It can be 5 minutes of yoga, meditation, journalling or exercise. I don’t believe in complicated morning rituals that tell you to do all these things before heading to work (who has the time?).
Pick one. Do it for 5-10 minutes. Repeat every morning. Leave the house on time and relaxed and you’re all set for a calmer day.
5. Practice Gratitude
When things get really stressful, nothing is going your way and everyone around seems on a mission to annoy you, find a way to be grateful.
Maybe your boss is demanding too much of you but you can be grateful you have a job that allows you to pay the bills and be independent. Maybe that project you were working on didn’t work out but you can be grateful that you and your loved ones are healthy. Maybe your car broke down but you can be grateful that it’s a warm sunny day.
Gratitude is the best antidote to stress, anxiety and disappointment. Go on, try it.
Over to you now. What tricks do you use to become a calmer person? Share them in the comments below.