How to remain calm and solution-oriented in challenging situations

Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

Harper's Bazaar India

As kids, almost all of us believed adulthood would be like a party—with no school or being told what to do. And then we grew up and realised that being an adult sometimes makes you crave the very things you wanted to get rid of. For instance, wouldn’t you love it if someone could take the pressure of making the right choice off you when you’re in the middle of a dilemma? Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone could just give you all the right answers? 

But life doesn’t work that way. We all face challenging situations—at home, in the workplace, with friends, and so on—and physical and emotional difficulties. Even the calmest-looking people have internal storms; probably they are just better at dealing with them or hiding them. Sometimes, a difficult situation can make you anxious and even lead to decision paralysis. Thus, in the interest of making better life choices and maintaining mental well-being, it’s important to learn how to tackle these situations well. 

Here are a few tips that will help you navigate through tough situations.

Recognise your emotions

The first step in managing challenging situations is to identify your emotions around it and accept them without judgment. Understand it's normal to feel stressed, anxious, or frustrated instead of feeling guilty about feeling a certain way. After you have identified and acknowledged your feelings, you can begin working around them.

Take deep breaths

Deep breathing is an effective technique for calming your mind and body. When you feel overwhelmed, take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. This simple practice can help bring a sense of calm.

Pause and reflect

Instead of reacting immediately, pause to gather your thoughts. Stepping back from the situation allows you to gain perspective and think more clearly. Use this time to reflect on the problem at hand and consider potential solutions instead of making impulsive choices.

Focus on the present 

Challenging situations often trigger worries about the future or past regrets. Bring your attention back to the present moment and focus on what you can do right now. By redirecting your focus, you can avoid unnecessary stress and thoughts, and concentrate on finding solutions.

Practice empathy and understanding

Try to understand the perspectives and motivations of others involved in the situation. Putting yourself in their shoes can help you approach the problem with empathy and find common ground. This mindset can lead to more constructive conversations and collaborative problem-solving.

Break down the problem

Large challenges can feel overwhelming. Break them down into smaller, manageable tasks or components. This approach allows you to tackle one aspect at a time and prevents you from feeling daunted by the entire problem. Celebrate each small victory, as it will motivate you to continue your efforts.

Explore alternative solutions

When faced with a difficult situation, it's important to think creatively and explore different solutions. Consider brainstorming multiple options, even those that may seem unconventional at first. Evaluating a variety of possibilities increases your chances of finding a suitable solution.

Seek support

Don't hesitate to reach out for support when facing challenging situations. Talk to trusted friends, family members, or colleagues who can provide a fresh perspective or offer advice. Sometimes, simply venting your thoughts and feelings can help you gain clarity and move forward.

Maintain a positive mindset

Cultivating a positive mindset can greatly influence how you approach and handle challenges. Practice gratitude, focus on your strengths, and remind yourself of past successes. Believing in your ability to find solutions will help you stay motivated and resilient in difficult times.

Learn from the experience

Challenging situations often provide valuable lessons for personal and professional growth. Afterward, take time to reflect on what you've learned and how you can apply that knowledge in the future. This mindset shift turns challenges into opportunities for self-improvement.