When it comes to remaining calm, I recommend counting to 10. This simple self-management strategy will help you manage your emotions and restore calm.
This strategy seems so simple that many might dismiss it at first glance.
It’s hard to believe it takes ten seconds or less for your brain to become calm and regain control of highly charged emotions. However, once you employ this strategy, you take a step closer to effectively controlling your emotions at the moment as they occur when you find yourself embroiled in a stressful or challenging situation.
Considering that 90% of top performers skillfully manage their emotions when engaged in highly stressful situations, it’s vital to learn this strategy.
Choosing a lifestyle of calm and mindfulness.
Chade-Meng Tan, the Search Inside Yourself Institute chairman, explored the importance of practicing calming techniques. He explains, “Learning to calm the mind starts with being more mindful of the body. By bringing mindful attention to the body, you strengthen the part of your brain called the insula, which is highly correlated with strong emotional awareness and empathy.”
Counting to ten will stop the flow of emotion like frustration and anger that floods your brain and help you to relax and give the mind time to calm to develop a clear and rational perspective. You can then manage the situation calmly rather than blurring out a reaction charged by emotion. In other words, you won’t be overheating the brain’s limbic system while your thoughts travel to the brain's prefrontal cortex, where logic resides.
Steps to remaining calm and manage your emotions.
- Stop and take a deep breath
- Exhale and then start counting: 1, 2, 3 …
- Keep counting until you reach 10
- Remember to breathe deeply while counting
The ability to understand and manage emotions is empowering. Admittedly, it takes time to develop, but you will find this technique for managing difficult emotions and stressful situations as straightforward as counting to ten with daily practice. As you strengthen your emotional intelligence, calmness will be natural. For more strategies, read The Power of Emotion or try an EQ-i 2.0: Self-Assessment.
This article was originally published on April 7, 2018, and has been updated (June 2021).
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