Flying used to be fun, but these days, it can be a test of our patience, resilience, and emotions. Long lines, shorter legroom, unwelcome behaviour and careless manners can cause unwanted stress and require grace.
Finding Calm Amidst Chaos: Strategies to Reduce Stress and Boost Resilience
I'm a frequent flyer and can honestly say I have never experienced anything like this on a recent "flight from hell." My resilience was tested throughout my flight as I felt various emotions, including anger and happiness. I harnessed my emotional intelligence skills and attempted to read the book I brought along, Emotional Intelligence for Dummies. I kid you not, and without question, it was a timely read.
Resilience is our ability to bounce back from adversity, including daily stress and drama. The good news is resilience is a behaviour that we can learn and develop through our thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Managing Challenging Behaviour
So, here's how my situation unfolded: I was travelling with companions and was separated from them as we took our seats on the plane. A rather interesting fellow joined me as I took my place near the window. Immediately, I noticed his social skills were amiss as he removed his boots as soon as he was seated. His obnoxious behaviour created stress during the entire flight affecting those around him, including me. What could I do about this? Initially, I considered requesting another seat, but I realized I would not be demonstrating graceful behaviour, and we would both feel uncomfortable if I took that action. I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do except manage my emotions and behaviour. I recognized this passenger was not trying to be annoying or difficult; he was just being himself. I tried to ignore his behaviour and redirect myself from his obnoxious actions throughout the flight by practising mindfulness, reading my book, and dreaming of my destination.
What is Grace?
Grace can have different meanings depending on the context. Generally, grace refers to elegance, poise, or charm in one's demeanour or actions. It involves displaying a sense of ease, harmony, and composure in various situations. Grace can be shown in how someone carries themselves, communicates, or handles challenging circumstances.
Grace can also refer to extending kindness, forgiveness, and understanding toward others. It involves treating people with compassion and empathy, even in difficult or tense situations.
Grace is a beautiful character trait, especially in stressful situations like travelling, where frustration can run high.
You Can Navigate Stress With Grace And Building Resilience
Building resilience is a gradual process that involves developing coping skills and strengthening your ability to navigate life's challenges. Practicing a graceful approach will not only help you as you navigate stress, it will positively impact those around you. Here are some step-by-step strategies to help you build resilience:
- Recognize and Accept Emotions: Acknowledge your feelings, including stress, anxiety, and sadness. It's okay to experience a range of emotions during difficult times.
- Cultivate a Support System: Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or a therapist. Having a reliable support network can provide encouragement and understanding.
- Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities like exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating, and relaxation techniques. Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is crucial for building resilience.
- Develop Problem-Solving Skills: Break down challenges into manageable steps and focus on finding solutions. Learn from setbacks and apply those lessons to future situations.
- Cultivate Optimism: Reframe negative thoughts into more positive ones. Look for opportunities for growth and learning in difficult situations.
- Practice Mindfulness: Engage in mindfulness techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to stay present and reduce stress.
- Set Realistic Goals: Break down larger goals into smaller achievable ones. Celebrate your progress along the way, no matter how small.
- Learn from Adversity: Reflect on past challenges and identify how you coped and what you learned. Apply those insights to future difficulties.
- Build Resilience Through Adversity: Don't shy away from challenging situations. Face them head-on, and you'll gradually build your resilience muscle.
Making the Best of a Situation
Having grace and a good sense of humour helps, especially during such circumstances. At one point, I wondered if a camera was filming us for a movie or commercial; it felt surreal. I felt trapped in a nightmare for the first three hours until the man excused himself to use the lavatory. Suddenly, I felt the stress lift, and my body started to shake with emotion. As I looked out the window, managing uncomfortable and uncontrollable laughter, my stomach muscles ached as I held in my laughter. Without a doubt, parts of the flight were hilarious; however, you can imagine my delight when the captain announced that we were arriving 15 minutes early.
As we began our descent, he pulled his boots back on, and I began to breathe easier. As I exhaled a sigh of relief, I felt emotions of both gratitude and joy; we were landing at last. I realized we could learn something from every stressful situation to build our resilience. I write about resilience in my book, The Power of Emotion, A Practical Guide to Making The Most Of Your Emotional Intelligence.
Building resilience involves keeping things in perspective, maintaining a positive outlook when faced with difficulty, and managing emotions that cause stress to avert an insurmountable crisis. As we become more resilient, our behaviour changes, and we improve our emotional intelligence, which benefits us in numerous ways. If you want to improve your emotional intelligence, consider taking a self-assessment to provide a personal analysis of your perception of your behaviour.
This article was originally published on May 19, 2018, and has been updated (August 2023).
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