3 Yogic Steps to Keep Your Cool When the Going Gets Tough

Life is unpredictable. Sometimes it will grace us with bliss, and other times it may drown us in sorrow. Unfortunately we do not always have control over this. We also do not have control over other people. Let’s face it: life can at times aggravate us and things don’t always go our way. Sometimes it might feel like we are powerless. We aren’t.
Although we can’t always control what happens to us, we can always control how we handle it.

When we choose to respond rather than react, we choose to make space for our happiness to flourish.

Our power lies in our response. Our happiness exists in our own hearts and we are the only ones in control of it. When we choose to respond rather than react, we choose to make space for our happiness to flourish.
Life might knock us down, but the trick is in what comes next, in how we respond. You can keep your cool when things get hard by gaining control over your reactions to stimuli. You have the power to put space between you and the catalyst.
It might sometimes feel like an event triggers an immediate reaction in us. In reality, there is a split second where that impulse is in our hands. If we can learn to turn that split second into five seconds, or ten seconds, we might find that our first reaction is not in fact our best reaction.

Here are a few ways to create this space, increase the time between our trigger and our response and keep our cool:

1. Count 3-5 inhalations & exhalations.
Each inhalation and exhalation pair counts as one. Do this for 3-5 breaths. Try it when someone cuts you off on the highway. Notice if your desire to react in a negative way—or to react at all (as opposed to simply letting it go)—subsides when you are done.
2. Focus attention on touching each finger on one hand to your thumb.
Do this 2-3 times. Pay attention to your reaction when a friend or loved one does something that pushes your buttons. Before you bite back, try this exercise. See if creating this space calms you down. This small but effective focus will remove you enough from the split second reaction to evaluate before responding.
3. Ground your feet into the floor.
Envision each toe pressing down into the earth along with the heel, allowing the arch to rise slightly. Focus on this act when a co-worker or supervisor rubs you the wrong way. Instead of that ‘fight or flight’ response, allow yourself to feel grounded and rooted, and thus in control.

These are three actions that are not noticeable to others, but will serve the purpose of grounding you in the present moment and temporarily take you out of your head, your thoughts, and your emotions. It will allow you to focus your attention on something else, distracting you and separating you from your catalyst.
This brief pause can provide you with the time you need to regain power over your emotional reactions. It will allow you to choose your response rather than being a slave to your impulses.

Through conscious and intentional control over our reactions, we empower ourselves.

This matters. It will predict the course of the next few minutes or longer. It will shape our attitude, our outlook, and our relationship with those around us. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. Give yourself a few seconds to choose wisely. Give yourself a choice rather than giving in to impulse. You have the power to keep your cool—use it!

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Alissa Lastres

Alissa Lastres has a graduate degree in Mental Health Counseling. She practices yoga daily and loves writing about wellness because she feels that we all harbor so much power to create a life of happiness and love. She is inspired easily, thrives on new experiences, and believes traveling is good for the soul.


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