I have this problem. I am never calm in high-stress situations. I'm pretty good in crises that involve other people, especially my loved ones, but when the crisis is mine, I lose all my cool. I'm so envious of people who resemble cucumbers when the going gets tough that I finally decided to get off my duff and learn how to stay cool myself. If you have the same problem, venture forth with me and we shall learn how to lay chilly together.
1 Don't Lose Your Sense of Humor
Humor can diffuse all sorts of high-stress situations. You'll have to judge for yourself if joking around is appropriate in a given situation, but typically, kidding around will keep you calm even if the other people involved don't appreciate it. That's why I stress the importance of being appropriate. This is the reason people in high-pressure jobs – pilots, doctors, police officers, people in the military – often tell ribald jokes in private. When you laugh, it releases hormones that keep you calm and increase your sense of control.
2 Slow It down
Often, in high-stress situations, you get a huge adrenaline dump. It can make you go a little (curse word upcoming, warning, warning) batshit. You're quick to react, you grasp for an answer to everything, and your mind goes off in a million directions at once. All the while, your heart's racing, your palms are sweating, and you can't slow down. Well, slow it down. Think before you respond. Give yourself time before you react, even if you have to do a mental five-count before you say a word. Get all the information you need before you go off or get panicked.
3 Choose Your Battles
Some situations are high-pressure because we make them feel that way. There's one thing you can do before you go in guns blazing, losing your cool and feeling out of control. Ask yourself if whatever is happen will mean anything to you in a year. If it's not, think about letting you go – even if you freak out or vent in private. In fact...
4 Get Your Venting out in Private
If you already know you're going to be in a stressful situation, prepare for it. One of the ways to prepare for it is to vent in private. Rant, scream, have an angry tirade – whatever helps. Make sure you have someone who can absorb that for you, though. Maybe you can even role play about the situation beforehand.
5 Identify the Stress Factors First
Before you go into the situation, think about the stress factors. For instance, if you lose your cool when you talk to a boss or a teacher, it might be because you fear authority or you're intimidated by their position. You need to know what it is that melts all your chill. Once you identify it, not only does it lose some of its power, but you can take the steps to conquer the things that make you uncomfortable.
6 Just Breathe
Honestly, controlling your breathing is exceptionally helpful. Breathe slowly when you feel yourself losing your calm. Like say, it gives you time to think, plus it will slow your heart rate, relax your muscles, and soothe your nerves.
7 Don't Shy Away from Stressful Situations
This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. Ignoring stressful situations won't help you deal with them. It just stagnates you. Learn how to redefine the situation, change the way you think when approaching your stress factors, and look for different ways around the issue, but never avoid it.
Slowing the moment and controlling my breathing help me the most. How do you stay calm with situations get heated?