9 habits of people who remain cool and composed in tough situations

As someone who doesn’t work well under pressure, I’m always amazed at those who can remain calm and composed in challenging situations.

How they can still think clearly and make decisions is beyond me, as I usually end up panicking and making every wrong decision – or none at all.

Want to learn how to remain calm in tough situations? Here are 9 habits we can pick up from people who’ve learned how to stay composed under pressure.

1) They focus on what matters.

In life, things will go wrong and people will get mad at you. You may end up trying everything you possibly can to rectify the situation but to no avail.

People will demand answers from you. They’ll want to find someone to blame. You may spend weeks trying to resolve something but not succeeding in the end.

I know I’d break down in a second in these situations, but for people who know how to remain composed through it all – they understand that what matters the most is directing their energies towards the problem.

They cut out the noise e.g. people who aren’t helping, additional challenges that do not solve the problem, and let go of minor stressors that do not contribute to the resolution of the issue. 

This helps them identify their priorities, maintain their focus, and resolve the issue. While they may not be able to find a solution, the important thing is that they’re able to remain calm throughout this stressful period.

2) They don’t take things personally.

Another high-pressure situation would be conflicts with other people, whether it’s at the workplace, school, in the family, or even with strangers in public.

A misunderstanding over an email, a conversation, or even an accidental push can increase tensions and lead to a full-blown argument.

Most people would become defensive immediately because it’s natural to take things personally.

But people who are usually calm and composed in these situations react very differently. They try to understand why the other party is feeling or acting this way and respond accordingly.

For example, I have a colleague who is amazing at navigating conflict. When management gives feedback or criticizes his work, he doesn’t see it as a personal attack – which most people tend to do. 

Instead, he evaluates their feedback and sees it as a learning opportunity. 

Sure there will also be people who intentionally say hurtful things, but the trick is to understand why they’d respond in this manner.

And if you did do something intentionally or unintentionally to make them behave in this way, then the next best thing to do is apologize.

3) They cultivate a supportive network.

Choosing to be calm in a challenging situation is not easy. Tough situations affect the best of us and even those who appear composed most of the time do have bad days.

Their not-so-secret weapon is to have a network of supportive friends whom they can trust. They’ll share their concerns with this community, and gain support, encouragement, and helpful strategies on how to get through a particularly stressful time.

A problem shared is indeed, a problem halved. This helps them lessen their mental load so that they’re able to take on the next day.

4) They practice effective communication.

When tensions are high, it’s important to tread lightly especially when there’s a very high chance the other person will take offense at what you say.

Therefore, people who are able to navigate such situations are skilled communicators. They’re able to choose their words wisely yet express their thoughts with assertiveness. 

They also practice active listening to show the other party that they’re willing to see things from their perspective as well.

As a result, they’re able to get their point across without stepping on the other person’s toes, so as to come to a compromise.

5) They maintain a positive outlook.

What’s important to those who can remain cool in tough situations, is that they always maintain a positive outlook in everything they do.

When they’re in a highly stressful situation, they remind themselves that they’re able to pull through. They see the good in every situation, rather than be overwhelmed by the bad. 

They also tell themselves that this difficult period will not last forever. 

During peak periods at work, I get overwhelmed very easily. I tend to panic and shut down, and my productivity will take a hit.

My partner would then encourage me to see the ‘good’ in this – that this period will end, and every challenge that I overcome will make me a stronger version of myself.

After going through that stressful period, I finally understood what my partner meant.

However, the choice to maintain a positive outlook requires a lot of discipline.

6) They practice mindfulness.

youre more mindful than you think 9 habits of people who remain cool and composed in tough situations

Another habit calm individuals practice is mindfulness. It helps them stay grounded in the present, despite the chaos that’s unfolding around them.

They’re able to be present and focused on the situation at hand. It’s really easy to be distracted by everything else, but mindfulness is a habit that needs to be cultivated over time.

The ability to steel and still the mind can come in very handy in tough situations.

7) They practice deep breathing.

When we’re stressed, our heart rate increases, our breathing quickens and we may feel lightheaded, anxious, and easily irritable.

Those who are able to control their breathing and maintain their composure are thus able to reduce the amount of stress in their system.

Deep breathing eases your body into a more relaxed state, and there are many helpful techniques online that share more about how one can regulate their breathing.

Forcing their minds to focus on positive thoughts and deliberately taking deep breaths, enables them to maintain their composure during difficult times.

8) They’re adaptable.

Another habit these people have is that they can adapt to changes quickly and efficiently.

They don’t get flustered easily when something doesn’t go according to plan. Usually, when things happen, our ability to react to them impacts our state of mind. If you’re someone who is not used to change, sudden changes can cause stress.

The trick is to accept that things will never go your way all the time; the road ahead may be full of detours, but what matters is that we end up at the destination we planned for.

Therefore, by being flexible, they’re able to look at changes as opportunities for learning and growth. Furthermore, as you continue to adapt to changes in your life, this will get a lot easier over time.

9) They have healthy eating and exercise habits.

Regular exercise can help sweat off the negativity – it helps one to release pent-up stress and tension as well.

Some people find release in high-impact sports or workouts while others find lower-impact exercises such as pilates and yoga, a better way to release the tension in their bodies and minds.

Eating healthily also contributes to a clearer mind, positioning one to be fully prepared and able to take on the stress of that day. 

Having healthy sleeping habits also contributes to a person’s overall well-being by providing sufficient rest for their body and mind.

Concluding thoughts

If you want to learn how to be a more composed person, these are 9 habits you could start. Being able to cope in stressful situations will certainly help you in the long run, as it reduces the risk of diseases, aging, and overall quality of life.

Moreover, it’ll help build your resilience and adaptability to whatever life throws your way. 

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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