How to Keep Your Cool When Things Get Heated

by | Oct 4, 2023 | Anger, Overwhelmed, Stress, Well-being | 0 comments

In the heat of the moment, many people throw all regard for their composure out the window. This is commonly seen in conflict with parents, family, and even colleagues. Unfortunately, when this happens, irreparable damage can sometimes be done. This is just one of many reasons why keeping your composure is such an important ability to have. 

Whether it’s dealing with daily stresses, unexpected challenges, or conflicts with loved ones, the power to stay calm can lead to better-improved relationships and a more peaceful state of mind. In this blog, we explore common situations that require a cool demeanor, and coping strategies for managing frustration and anger, and provide eight practical tips for maintaining your composure.

Common Situations That Require a Cool Demeanor

Life is rife with situations that can test even the most composed individuals. From traffic jams and work deadlines to disagreements with friends or family members, our ability to keep our cool can be challenged regularly. 

Plus, unexpected emergencies and crises that occasionally pop up can trigger intense emotional reactions as well. Recognizing these situations as opportunities for growth rather than as threats to our peace of mind is the first step towards maintaining a calm demeanor in any situation.

  • Situations with Family
  • Workplace Conflict
  • Romantic Conflict
  • Interactions with Strangers
The Science Behind Keeping Calm

Understanding the science behind our emotional responses can empower us to regulate our reactions more effectively. When we encounter inevitable stressful situations, the brain’s amygdala triggers the “fight or flight” response, flooding our system with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. 

However, the prefrontal cortex, responsible for rational thinking and decision-making, can counteract this response when put into action. We can engage the prefrontal cortex via techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and positive self-talk. This way, we can intentionally induce a calmer state of mind.

8 Tips to Control the Situation
  • Don’t Feed the Fire: For heated scenarios with those we love, we often know exactly what to say to either trigger them or make them more upset. As tempting as it may be to let one of those comments fly, avoid doing so at all costs. This will only cause the situation to escalate and will create even more stress than there was to begin with.
  • Avoid Finger Pointing: Accountability is the best way to win over someone on the opposing side of an argument. Taking responsibility for any part that you may have played can quickly settle the other person. It makes it feel less like a blame game and more like a conversation. This is also important for your self-development, as taking accountability is an important skill to have.
  • Remain Neutral: If you find yourself in a situation where there are more than just two people involved, refrain from taking any one person’s side. This causes the isolated person to immediately become defensive, thereby worsening the situation. Even if you feel internally that one person is in the right, keep it to yourself for the time being.
  • Use Visualization: It might be helpful for you to imagine a calm and serene place when you feel stressed out by conflict. An example of this might be the ocean or your favorite hilltop view. This can help you mentally detach from the situation at hand. Just be careful not to do this mid-conversation as it could cause an angry response from the other person.
  • Refrain From Using Passive-Aggressive Statements: Most people can pick up on these kinds of comments quickly, and very few respond well to them. When you are already dealing with a heated situation, this is one of the worst things you can do.
  • Keep Your Facial Expressions in Check: Eye rolling and brow arching are two ways that we can quickly communicate how upset we are feeling in the moment. Other people see this and may become further enraged in most cases. Be mindful of how you come across to others. 
  • Keep Communication at a Minimum: If you find that there is just no way that you can calm down in the moment, walk away and hold your tongue until you are less upset. Forcing yourself to communicate in the moment might worsen the situation and cause you to say something you do not mean or will regret later.
  • Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Regardless of the specifics of the scenario, empathy always goes a long way. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can help you understand where they might be coming from. You still might not agree with them, but it will at least give you insight into where their head is at.
Tips Especially for Parents of Teenagers

Parenting teenagers is often a rollercoaster of conflict and emotions, requiring an extra dose of composure at times. Ultimately, experiencing this conflict is normal and healthy in many situations. Teenagers are experiencing a new level of autonomy as they prepare to enter adulthood. With this, they often feel the desire to push back regarding rules and boundaries. While this can be hard to deal with, there are some strategies you can use to help guide you through this challenging phase of life.

  • Listen Actively: Pay attention to your teenager’s concerns and feelings without immediately offering solutions. Sometimes, they just need a listening ear without the added advice.
  • Pick And Choose Your Battles: Not every issue needs to become a major confrontation. Decide what truly matters and let go of minor disagreements. This will save you both time and energy.
  • Use The Golden Rule: Treat them the way that you want to be treated by them. You can do this by modeling the behavior you wish to see in your teenager. For example, if you are requesting that they speak to you in a calm tone, be sure to begin conversations with a calm tone as well. If you demonstrate effective communication, they are more likely to learn from your example.
  • Allow Them to Be Independent Within Reason: Allow your teenager to make decisions and learn from their mistakes. This allows them to learn a sense of responsibility and autonomy.
  • Be in the Know: Keep up with their social circles and online activities so that you can effectively guide them. This will help you understand their world and provide better guidance. Arbitrary advice is rarely helpful for teens as they are in a more self-centered phase of life. If the advice can be directly related to their current situation, they are more likely to internalize it.
  • Apologize When Necessary: If you lose your temper, don’t hesitate to apologize. It teaches your teenager the importance of accountability and humility.

Maintaining a cool demeanor in the face of challenges is a skill that can be cultivated through understanding and adopting practical strategies. Whether you’re dealing with everyday annoyances or navigating the complexities of parenting teenagers, these tips can help you stay calm and make better decisions in the moment. At the end of the day, it’s not about avoiding difficult situations, but about building the resilience to face them with composure.


We Can Help!

MHThrive provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit to learn more.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Online Treatment Programs provides Teletherapy Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs allowing participants to receive intensive therapy with our licensed therapists and psychiatrists without having to leave home.  If you or someone you know is struggling to overcome depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, panic attacks, PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other mental health or addiction issues, we can help.  To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our teletherapy programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.