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How to stay calm in stressful situations

It's 9am. You are at work. Your cell phone rings. It's your mother. You glance down at the phone, knowing that she only calls during work hours when something serious is happening. Then a new email message pops up on your screen. It's your boss. He wants to meet with you in 5 minutes, but he doesn't say what it's about. Two text messages beep through your phone. You stare back at your phone, glancing at the texts, while it's still ringing with your mom's call. You re-read the email. Your head starts to swim, your heart is pounding, and your shoulders tighten.

If you are like most of us, similar stress-inducing scenarios happen all to frequently. They cause you anxiety, give you a headache, and set a disagreeable tone for the rest of the day. How could things have gone differently?

Here are a few tips to help you keep your cool in the face of stressful situations.

1. First breathe, then think. Especially in situations when your attention is being demanded from a variety of sources, it's literally impossible to make informed choices about your next step without a fully oxygenated brain. The 30 seconds you take for a few deep breaths will not put anyone else out and may help settle your nerves.

2. Come back to your body. Often, we respond to chaos by releasing awareness of our physical body. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates anxiety and physical tension. Bring your attention to your feet and feel yourself reconnecting with the ground.

3. Prioritize. In situations when we are being pulled in several directions at once, we have to triage. What can wait a few minutes or hours?

If you would like more support to help you achieve calmness in the face of every day or acute stress, contact me at 503.987.0121 or


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