We have all been in stressful situations where everything is tense, the future is unknown and we are dreading the worse. This may be a situation where you are studying furiously for a test, and it’s your final exam week. You are concerned because you are barely passing and how you do on this exam will impact your GPA significantly and may force you to retake this dreaded class. Others may be working on an important presentation that is integral for the company. We are all placed in stressful situations, some which we may be very unprepared to handle. By the time an undergraduate college student is ready to graduate he or she may be comfortable giving class presentations while still stressing out about job interviews. Someone working at company for over 5 years may be calm with their job and his or her daily tasks, but may be unprepared once he or she hits a promotion and has tighter deadlines, new job duties and more people watching.
Learning to be calm can make a world of difference when dealing with stressful situations. Personally, I have practiced many methods to being calm which have saved me in tough situations. Even if my performance was not all that great, I saved myself tons of anxiety and was able to relax and stay focused on the task at hand.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are feeling stressed out and need to try and remain calm.
- What is the cause of the stress? We often misinterpret what the cause of the stress truly is. We may be feeling like it’s the exam slowly approaching but in reality it’s the argument you just had with your partner or the recent rejection from a school you were applying to. Find the source of the stress.
- How can I control my stress? What are you reasonably able to do to help the situation be better? There are some things we can control and others that we can’t. Making appropriate steps to control the situation are the best you can do. If preparing for an important presentation to your boss, then rehearse and ask for feedback if possible. Understand that some things are out of your control such as being late for work because your car was stuck in traffic during a snow storm.
- Does this situation matter? It’s amazing how many things we stress out about that are just not important at all. Thing about the relevance of the situation and how important that is in your life. Once you realize the importance of the situation, you can start not caring as much.
- How can I be active in being calm? Take action with your stress. Worrying about it only wastes time and delays the worse. If you are stressed about an exam, then stop worrying and start studying. Actively making an effort will help decrease your worry and know that you are doing the best you can to battle against the worse. Again, take action and try to not ignore the situation.
- What is realistic for me? Be realistic. If you waited the day before to study for an exam then be realistic that it may be difficult to get an A overnight. If you have a week or so to prepare for something, then be realistic about what is attainable and what is not.
- What short term goals can I set for myself? Set goals for yourself. Practice being calm by setting attainable goals. This will allow you to stay on track and be aware of how much time you really have to do something.
- Should I talk about this or no? Try to avoid talking about the stress too much. Sometimes venting can be helpful, but often, it can only make you feel less calm. Complaining about how stressed out you are can often make things worse. Try to spend less time complaining with friends and colleagues and more time focusing on the task at hand.
- Do I need a break? Allow yourself time for a break if you need one. Take your mind off the stress for awhile. Go see a movie. Do other work. Maybe go grab some dinner and eat slowly. Taking a break can allow you to relax and not think about it so much.