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Practice serenity: Keep calm in stressful situations

Reading time 9 minutes
Practice serenity: Keep calm in stressful situations

In life, there are always situations in which nothing really goes right. It's not so easy to stay calm and collected when that happens. Are you one of those people who fly off the handle when things don't go the way you want them to? How would you like to react in a sovereign and level-headed manner? You look admiringly at people who are calm even in the seemingly most hopeless moments and would like to be like them. Even if you lose your composure quickly, you can manage to become more relaxed. In fact, serenity can be learned.

Serenity - what is it?

The ability to stay cool even when things are heating up - that's composure. Those who are calm act confidently and are free of fear, as the manager, consultant and seminar leader Elke Nürnberger writes in her book "Gelassenheit lernen. Serene people rest within themselves and don't waste their time getting upset about things they can't influence. They accept them as they are and manage to let stress, hecticness and worries bounce off them.

Especially annoying little things do not bring these people out of the calm. Composure is the inner attitude of remaining level-headed in any situation. It doesn't matter whether the job is extremely stressful, there's a traffic jam on the highway, the train is late, or things are going haywire in your private life.

Those who are calm are better able to deal with such situations. Serenity is therefore the opposite of nervousness and restlessness and the ability to be completely in the here and now.

That is why composure is an advantage

Being calm has many advantages. For one thing, you can think more rationally and therefore find solutions more quickly. You see possibilities that can help you in the storm of emotions remain hidden. Composure gives you the confidence to master problems in a relaxed manner. On the other hand, composure significantly reduces your energy consumption and spares your nerves.

But that is by no means all. Serenity is also good for your health. When you are calm, you strengthen your immune system and protect your heart and circulation. If you stay relaxed in crisis situations, you release much less cortisol. This stress hormone is responsible, among other things, for shifting the balance of T-helper cells, as psychoneuroimmunologist Christian Schubert of the Medical University of Innsbruck explains. Those who are constantly under stress have an increased risk of viral diseases, high blood pressure, heart attacks and cancer. Serenity, on the other hand, stops the release of cortisol and ensures that T-helper cells are strengthened.

Serene people radiate sympathy

So those who are calm live longer, as has also been proven in studies. In addition, the inner peace also good for the psyche. Serene people are less prone to depression. They are better able to deal with strokes of fate, regain their optimism more quickly, and are happier. Last but not least, they are perceived by their peers as more sympathetic and attractive than those who quickly lose their cool.

So there are many good reasons to let more serenity into your life. The first step is to think about the situations in which you tend to freak out.

Learn serenity

What robs you of your serenity?

If you haven't yet reached your desired level of composure, it's worth taking a critical look inward. In which situations do you get stressed and lose your composure? The reasons for this can be many and varied. For some, it's enough to take longer than planned in the morning to choose an outfit. Others fly into a rage when the person in front of them in the car doesn't drive the way they would like. Traffic jams or train delays are also a reason for many to fly off the handle.

The deadline is approaching and you're not even close to being done with your project. A feeling of being overwhelmed at work is another reason to lose your composure. Maybe you're having trouble with your partner, the kids are shooting off the handle, or you feel taken advantage of, treated unfairly, and not valued. These are all serious things that can really upset you. Permanent pressure to succeed and the high expectations you place on yourself can also rob you of your inner peace.

Stress factor: loss of control and powerlessness

Of course it is good and right to be determined and to want to succeed. But if it turns into morbid ambition, stress is already pre-programmed. Control freaks are also rarely calm. When unforeseen situations arise, they quickly feel a loss of control and powerlessness. The natural reaction of such people is to become nervous and upset. But this also means losing control over their own emotions.

Sometimes, however, mundane things are enough to make you lose your cool. Maybe you're invited to a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant and you've dressed up. You promptly spill sauce on your outfit. Or you come home after a hard day at work and long for some peace and quiet, but your family is all over you.

But no matter what situation you find yourself in, you always have the choice of how to deal with it. It's up to you how much attention you want to give it and what attitude you take! You can get upset about it, of course, but you don't have to. You can just as easily take a deep breath, stay calm and smile. Here lies the key to more serenity in life.

How do I become more calm?

Don't be discouraged if you are still far from being serene. You too can learn composure. It takes some work and needs constant practice, especially in the early days. Only by repeating the same thought patterns can new neural connections be created in the brain, according to brain researchers at Stanford University in California.

You can think of it sort of like learning a new sport. So if you belong to the faction that blows up and gets upset quickly, the first thing you need to do is change your behavior patterns. You're used to getting nervous and stressed out. In confrontations with others, you get loud instead of arguing calmly. You may also think that calmness and you don't really go together, or that it's not possible to be calm and composed in your stressful job anyway.

Serenity through a new inner attitude

Of course, you can't flip the switch overnight and suddenly be deeply relaxed. But if you change your mindset and resolve to stop letting every little thing upset you, you will set the course for more serenity in your life. It's a long road, but the beginning is made when you realize that you don't want to go on like this. The next point is to identify the situations that bring you out of your inner balance.

If it helps you, write down everything that causes you stress on a list. Observe yourself and your reaction to certain situations. Keep in mind that how you deal with them is your choice. You don't have to react to them. But that's the difficulty, at least at first. Recognizing dicey situations doesn't automatically bring you the serenity you crave. The true art is to remain sovereign and relaxed exactly then. To make this easier for you in the future, here are a few tips for staying calm.

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How to learn composure: 11 tips to stay relaxed

To become a serene person, you don't have to completely shut yourself off from the outside world. On the contrary, learning serenity only works if you live your normal everyday life. Day after day you will be exposed to enough situations where you have the choice to freak out or stay calm. Remind yourself to stay calm when you're the only one in the car, your colleagues are annoying or your child is constantly whining. With these eleven tips for staying calm, you'll find it easier to do so every time, and after a while you'll be able to apply them to all other situations as well.

11 exercises for more serenity

1. loosen up
This is to be taken quite literally. In stressful situations, we tend to tense up and breathe more shallowly. So the first step is to take a deep breath as soon as you identify a stressor. Stand up straight and let your shoulders hang loosely. Now take at least five deep breaths through your nose. The breath should reach the abdomen. Exhale through the mouth.

This automatically relaxes your body and supplies your brain with more oxygen. In addition, you can let your shoulders rotate a few times. Releasing external tensions also relaxes you internally. You have gained some distance to the situation and can react more calmly.

2. reflect on your perception
Think about whether the situation is really as bad as it is portrayed in your head cinema. When you're in a rage, you like to dramatize things and make them seem more threatening than they actually are.

3. silence is gold
Especially when a situation threatens to escalate, it is wise not to say anything at first. In this way, you can create a little distance and avoid saying things on impulse that you may later regret. When you have calmed down, you can deal with the situation soberly and objectively.

4. pay attention to your choice of words
Your desk is overflowing, there's no end to the housework, and to make matters worse, a hefty bill flutters into your house, even though your bank account is currently low. Of course, people like to talk about a catastrophe or a disaster. But even if your current situation doesn't seem so rosy, you should try not to make it worse with negative words.

Because this makes it more and more hopeless in your mind and it becomes more and more difficult for you to practice composure. Try to remain objective. You can tell yourself that the current situation is problematic, but you are doing your best. Remember what you have achieved in the past. This will motivate you and help you to face the situation calmly.

5. talk to someone
If you have fears or problems, you tend to withdraw. But that only causes them to become more overwhelming in your mind. It works relaxingIt's a good idea to talk to someone you trust about the things that are bothering you. In this way, you can see your worries from a different perspective and get suggestions for solutions that you haven't even thought of yet.

6. also say no sometimes
If you feel that everything is getting too much for you, then say no without having a guilty conscience. This applies to both your job and your private life. If you know your limits and defend them, you will bring more serenity into your everyday life.

7. Set priorities
You are probably familiar with the famous to-do list from your everyday work. Here, everything is sorted according to importance and urgency. You can also create such a priority list for your private life and for your family and friends. Not everything has to be done right away, and maybe the visit to Aunt Berta can wait a little longer. This way you can slow down your everyday life and be more relaxed.

8. nobody is perfect
Of course, you always do your best, but it doesn't always have to be 100 percent. The tendency to perfectionism puts pressure on yourself and is deadly for your composure. Often you expect the same Perfectionism also from others. But nobody is perfect and mistakes can always creep in. Admit them to yourself - and also to others. This will make you a more relaxed person.

9. find a balance
When everyday life threatens to consume you, it's time to pull the emergency brake. Taking regular breaks during the day helps you stay balanced, as does getting enough rest. Sleep. Also Meditation or autogenic training can help you find inner peace. Peace of mind. Sit in your favorite chair with a book or go on a date with friends. Whatever is fun and good for you will make you more calm.

10. do sports
Sports are a perfect outlet to relieve stress and frustration. Not to mention, you're also doing something for your health and fitness. When you feel good in your body, you become more confident and ultimately more relaxed.

11. practice forbearance
Even if your fellow human beings drive you up the wall again, try to be lenient. You don't know the reason for their actions. Perhaps they are struggling with problems that are overwhelming them. Of course, that doesn't mean you should put up with everything. But there is no point in getting upset about it.

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A life task

Learning composure is a life task. Since you can't always influence the situations you get into, there will always be moments that push you to your limits. Then it is important to remember that you have the power to decide. You decide how you react. You can make this decision day after day. With practice and our calmness tips, you will find it increasingly easy. Eventually, you will notice that serenity has become a habit for you.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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