Here is the first thing you should know: remaining calm is something that you can learn how to do. Even though everyone comes into the world with genes that make them more or less impulsive, it’s natural to get carried away by emotions and passions early in life, when the frontal lobe still isn’t completely developed.
If you’re lucky enough to have favorable conditions for your growth and development, you learn that in order to act reasonably, you have to control your impulses. You also realize that if you don’t have that self-control, you end up behaving erratically and doing or saying things that hurt you in the long run.
The bad news is that not everyone has had an upbringing that promotes self-control. The good news is that after childhood, you can educate yourself. Once you’re aware of the problem, and can think of times in the past when you acted too quickly, you can take action to correct this behavior.
It’s true that this involves repressing your impulses. Entering into the world of culture always demands a certain amount of renouncing those desires that go against the coexistence of others.
But in reality, the person who benefits from self-control the most is yourself. It prevents you from pointlessly wasting emotional energy and allows you to be more assertive. Below, we’ll show you 4 clues to learn how to keep calm when it’s hardest to do so.
To remain calm, immediately cut off the stressful stimulus
The loss of control occurs when a stressful stimulus is presented. The label “stressful” covers things that scare or threaten you, as well as things that question or oppose your desires.
If you haven’t developed self-control, these stimuli will make you defensive, which is expressed as aggression. This includes shouting; violent gestures; and offensive, hurtful, or threatening language.
You can control those impulses if you’re able to keep still and silent for 20 seconds. If you feel like it’s impossible to not react, simply stand up and leave the situation for a brief moment, inhaling and exhaling deeply. It’s really true that you have to count to ten. Sometimes, the difference between a big success and a big mistake is these few seconds of breaking away from the situation.
Focus your attention on your own body
It’s very important to train yourself to be attentive to everything that goes on within your body. Activate this state of mind every time you feel uncomfortable with someone or something. Stop thinking about the external reality, and instead turn your attention towards how you’re reacting physiologically. The signals that come from your body accompany the state of anxiety you’re feeling.
Concentrate on how you’re breathing, on your heartbeat. Think about the temperature of your body, and if you feel hot, refresh yourself with some water or fresh air. Notice if your muscles are tense and stretch them. Even if you barely realize it, you’ll be taking the reigns of the situation.
To activate this mindset, record the following command in your mind and repeat it constantly: “I want to understand my bodily reactions.” If you notice something that confuses or irritates you, get used to automatically thinking “I want to understand my bodily reactions.” This sentence will lead to self-observation, and as a consequence, self-control.
Exercise, exercise, exercise
If you’re one of those chronic cases (people who explode almost all the time and for almost any reason), you urgently need to introduce an exercise routine into your daily life. It’s better if it’s a sport, which will get rid of the excess energy that you would otherwise use against yourself.
It’s scientifically proven that exercise activates the production of different hormones that affect mood. Exerting physical energy also allows you to release that excess emotional tension that keeps you feeling irritated or on the point of exploding. Also, the discipline that exercise and sport demand is another way to train your capacity for self-control.
It’s not about competing against others or making victory your goal. What’s important is enjoying the activity and listening to your body in a space that gives you the freedom to move at a faster and more energetic pace.
It’s even better if it’s something that draws your attention or that you enjoy in some way. But if you find yourself in a phase where you don’t enjoy anything, simply do your exercise alone at home or substitute it by taking a daily, fast-paced walk. You’ll feel better in no time.