How to Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic

Three Parts:Managing StressBecoming Self-AwareChanging Your Focus

We all dream about a life that runs harmoniously, but that dream is more an ideal than a reality. When the pressure’s on do you go with the flow or push against the tides? Staying calm in the midst of chaos is a valuable virtue. Learn how to effectively manage unpredictable circumstances and look practically cool under pressure.

Part 1
Managing Stress

  1. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 1
    Take a breath. The best on-the-spot solution for combating stress and tension is deep breathing. This technique stimulates the body’s natural relaxation response, slowing down the breaths to allow more oxygen in which minimizes anxious feelings.[1]
    • Find a comfortable place to sit with your back straight or supported by a chair. Place on hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Take a deep cleansing breath in through your nose for 4 counts. Notice the hand on your abdomen expanding outward. The other hand should move only a little.
    • Hold the breath for 1 or 2 counts then exhale slowly from your mouth for 4 counts. As you release the air, the hand on your stomach should gradually deflate. Continue the exercise for approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 2
    Meditate. There are many types of meditation. One useful form, called mindfulness meditation, involves focusing on the present moment. You focus your attention on your breath, a repeated mantra or phrase, an object in the room, or on the flame of a candle. Increasing one’s mindfulness is associated with decreased rates of anxiety, stress, and depression, so this form of meditation can be incredibly practical for staying calm during chaos.[2]
    • Find a quiet, distraction-free environment where you can sit comfortable without being disturbed. Sit up straight, either on a cushion or in a chair.
    • Find a point of focus (e.g. your breath, the wall ahead of you, etc.). Observe your point of focus without judgment. When you find your mind straying from this focus, gently guide your attention back without criticizing yourself.
  3. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 3
    Practice visualization. You can practice visualization on your own or through an abundance of free guide imagery videos available on YouTube. Visualization allows you to enter a state of relaxation by imagining yourself in another environment, a peaceful place.[3]
    • Sit comfortably. Choose a setting that is relaxing to you – a beach, a rainforest, or a special place you knew as a child. Engage all of your senses. Envision this peaceful place, the way it sounds, smells, or feels against your skin. Vividly explore this place as you continue to relax and let your worries slip away.
  4. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 4
    Write in a journal. There is something especially therapeutic about pulling out a notebook and pen to unload your thoughts and worries. When you find yourself getting caught up in unfortunate or distressing circumstances, it can be helpful to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
    • There is scientific evidence that journaling helps you to understand yourself and your thoughts and feelings, solve problems, minimize stress, and come up with solutions to disagreements.[4]

Part 2
Becoming Self-Aware

  1. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 5
    Strive for self-awareness. In truth, it’s hard to know when you are letting your current situation or surroundings aggravate you unless you are self-aware. Self-awareness is the practice of becoming conscious of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions.[5] Becoming more self-aware can clue you in on your unique personality traits, how you learn and adapt, your values, and your abilities.
  2. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 6
    Listen to your self-talk. Step one in the process of becoming self-aware is to listen to your self-talk. What kind of things do you say to yourself? Do you say nice things about yourself or others?[6]
    • Set aside a few minutes each day to sit in silence and pay attention to your thoughts. Write these thoughts down to see if they are positive or negative.
  3. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 7
    Become aware of your senses. Grow into a careful observer of your thoughts and feelings by tuning in to the sensations you experience. You can know when you are overwhelmed, frustrated, or ashamed by the way these emotions impact your senses.[7]
    • For example, going red and warm in the cheeks, or blushing, could be a sign of embarrassment. Feeling tightness in your chest or being short of breath can point to anxiety or distress. Balling up your fists or clenching your teeth could symbolize anger.
  4. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 8
    Develop resilience. You will face many problems in your life - some small, some big. It is in your ability to adapt and grow from stressful situations that you become resilient. There are 10 ways to foster resilience:[8]
    • Refrain from labeling stressful events as insurmountable. It is not the event, but your interpretation and reaction that determines how you move forward. Choose to believe that things can and will get better.
    • Trust yourself. When you view yourself positively and believe you are capable of handling life's problems, you develop greater resilience to those problems.
    • Connect. Stressful events seem less daunting when you have a positive support group on which you can lean on or accept help.
    • Be good to yourself. Exercise. Eat well. Attend to your emotional needs. Practice regular self-care.
    • Be a solver. Rather than denying problems or running from them, take action on the things you can control as soon as possible.
    • Avoid exaggeration. Stop letting your mind blow things out of proportion. Ask yourself, "how much will this matter in 1 year or 5 years?"
    • Embrace change. Change is an inescapable aspect of life. Know that life is a constant ebb and flow - bad won't last forever, neither will good.
    • Be optimistic. Have faith that things can improve in your life.
    • Discover yourself. In the midst of chaos, look for ways you can learn from the situation.
    • Set realistic goals. Aim to do something daily (or weekly) that pushes you closer to reaching your goals. Doing this builds motivation and self-confidence to accomplish bigger goals in the future.

Part 3
Changing Your Focus

  1. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 9
    Laugh. Simply throwing back your head for a mighty guffaw has the power to lift your mood and shift your perspective. Other benefits of laughter include its ability to help you fight disease, minimize pain, lower anxiety, and build connections with others.[9] The next time the chaos of life is getting you down, find something that makes you laugh.
    • Some ideas are hanging out with your silly best friend who is always a ball of giggles, playing with a small child, or watching funny videos and movies.
  2. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 10
    Ask for advice. Want to know if you are overreacting about a situation? Ask a trusted friend. Sometimes, it takes talking about a situation aloud for us to recognize that things aren't as bad as they seem.[10]
    • Pull aside a close friend and tell this person what's been going on in your life. See what her reaction is to the situation. She may be able to offer helpful advice for changing what you can, or looking on the bright side.
    • You can even ask a friend to hold you accountable. When you find yourself overreacting or getting too stressed about life, tell your friend to call you out and remind you to relax.
  3. Image titled Stay Calm When Things are Chaotic Step 11
    Look for silver linings. Choosing to search for the positive in stressful or upsetting situations is a life-giving trait. When you consciously strive to find the silver linings in "bad" situations, you can reduce depression, improve your relationships, and enhance stress-coping.[11] Try this exercise to help you find the silver linings in negative events:
    • Get out a sheet of paper and a writing instrument. Create a list of 5 things for which you are appreciative (e.g. "a job", "my health", etc.) This portion of the exercise helps you enter a more positive line of thinking.
    • Now, think of a situation that did not go so well lately. Maybe the event caused you anger, frustration, or disappointment. Briefly describe the situation on paper. Then, list 3 things that allow you to look on the bright side of the event.
    • For example, maybe you made a bad grade on your English essay. The bad grade gave you the opportunity to: 1) get to know your English teacher better; 2) utilize the campus writing center for tutoring; and 3) improve your English grades in the future.

Article Info

Categories: Stress Anxiety and Crisis Management