“I know I should be calm, but I can’t seem to keep from always flying off the handle!”


Is this you? Maybe not all the time – maybe just when that particular someone who “always gets under your skin” is involved?  Well, you’re not alone. Everyone has to deal with an abundance of emotions every day. But the hard truth is, if you aren’t in control of those emotions, you are ineffective in every avenue of your life.

Emotions themselves are not a bad thing.  Emotions play a critical role in our lives by allowing us to express complex combinations of psychological states, which in turn makes it possible for us to resolve them.  None-the-less, when communicating, managing conflict, leading people, working in a team or just about any other life situation, it is vital to have a handle on our emotions, so we are controlling them – they are not controlling us.

Some people tend to be more emotional than others, and that’s normal. It just means that some people are better at managing their emotions than others. It’s a skill, with techniques that can be learned and mastered. Here are four simple, tangible things you can do to help keep your cool in stressful situations.

  • Breathe – Get oxygen to your brain. Breathing helps short-circuit the fight or flight syndrome.  Breathing is the most under-utilized, under-appreciated, under-practiced stress reduction technique.  Last time I checked, it is available to every human being… and it’s free!
  • Take a walk – Walking has the duel benefit of calming nerves and energizing the brain. Take a walk around the office or in a park if available.  It’s amazing how well it works.
  • Get a drink of water – Drinking water also has a duel benefit. It gives you an opportunity to pause – which can calm your nerves, while simultaneously hydrating your body, which is crucial to emotional control.  Your brain does not think rationally when it is dehydrated.
  • Have an exit line that works for you – When you feel on the verge of losing emotional control, use a firm and respectful exit line to remove yourself from the situation. Walk away.  Then you can come back to the conversation or issue when you are firmly back in emotional control.

Using these quick, tangible techniques can help you keep control of your emotions while you are gaining longer term skills that make it easier to do so in stressful situations.