Since the beginning of the year, I have been reflecting on the word equanimity. The Oxford Language Dictionary defines equanimity as “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.”

While equanimity has been considered a spiritual virtue for centuries, it’s also becoming a common topic of interest for modern psychologists. Psychologists’ sudden interest in equanimity makes perfect sense. Our world is so fast-paced with the growth of technology, faster communications, increased career demands and growing conversations around anxiety. Stressors disrupt one’s ability to achieve mental calmness, so understanding how to find that balance has been of pressing interest in recent years.

I’m sure you can think of someone who just lets things roll off their shoulders and stays calm even in the craziest storms. They are even-keel, handling whatever life throws their way with poise.

People like that are a picture of equanimity.

Depending on the situation, I often find my emotions closer to that of a yo-yo! The emotional highs and lows leave me and everyone else around me feeling exhausted. It’s not that I want to be on this constant roller coaster of emotions, but that can be my default at times, especially when stressors are coming at me from all directions. However, I’m hopeful for myself and for other women—that we, too, can learn to embrace this concept of equanimity and become pillars of calm and level-headedness in our spheres of influence.

How Can We Cultivate Equanimity?

As women wearing many hats—entrepreneurs, moms, members of our communities—how do we cultivate equanimity? There is certainly no lack of work deadlines, kids’ sports schedules, passion projects, business demands and relationship management that could be brewing in our minds at any time. As I’ve learned firsthand through Trailblazers, we were not designed to do life alone, finding community in our women’s retreats and business coaching programs can help us normalize our storms.

I read this quote from Willow Bay a couple of years back, and it really stuck with me,

“For women of my generation, it was the ‘juggling act.’ Jobs, marriage, children, homes, and aging parents were the balls we added, tossing them in the air as our lives filled up and praying they wouldn’t come crashing down on our heads.”

So when that one extra thing you weren’t planning for happens, it can easily send you over the edge. It’s like one more ball in that juggling act!

While I haven’t entirely cracked the code on practicing equanimity at all times, what I have landed on is that keeping my cool comes down to taking a step back, pausing and really evaluating the full picture of the situation. I like to ask myself:

  • Is solving this mission critical right at this very moment? (Tip: Sometimes sleeping on it and evaluating with a clear mind is the best course.)
  • What might the other person feel and why did they act that way? (Tip: Sometimes it’s not you or the situation at hand. Maybe that person had a tough day or week.)
  • Are there other pressures, uncertainties or my own insecurities popping up? (Tip: Sometimes we are clouded by a past situation that bubbles up. The insight we gather from our experiences can be good, but it can also create a reckless reaction.)

Answering these questions takes humility and introspection on my part. Awareness of myself and others provides insight that can easily get tossed out when emotions are high.

Solidify Yourself as a Woman Who Others Trust and Respect

Women who are confident earn the trust and respect of others. They know what’s within their control and which questions to ask to make informed decisions. Women who cultivate equanimity also understand how to regulate their emotions to defuse and tackle challenging situations with level heads. For me, this is a true aspiration and one of the many reasons I have started women’s retreats and have become an executive business coach, to help other women on this journey and honestly learn along the way too – our Trailblazers network has taught me so much!

As the CEO and founder of WildRock PR and Marketing, I’ve often experienced the need to regulate my emotions in a challenging situation and respond with calmness and poise. And certainly, as a parent, there are moments when the way I react sets the tone for how the following events will play out.

As a work in progress myself, one thing I’ve learned for sure is that in intense situations, I can take a deep breath, take an objective look at the issue and move forward committed to mental calmness and composure.

Fear and uncertainty are inevitable, and when practicing equanimity, we will certainly make mistakes. By having compassion for ourselves (and others), apologizing when necessary and pressing forward we can practice with intentionality.

When Equanimity Matters Most

I’ll leave you with a story about a female pilot who found herself living her worst nightmare! During her flight, one of the exit doors inexplicably flew open! Can you imagine? With a flight full of panicked passengers, she had few precious moments to act and quickly requested an emergency landing. Once safely on the ground, air traffic control was shocked to see the severity of the emergency because the pilot was so “calm and poised” during the call. Talk about practicing equanimity!

Even if you don’t think you’d be able to react like that pilot did, that doesn’t mean you can’t start practicing equanimity. No matter your natural disposition, you can take steps to increase your ability to be calm in intense situations. Developing a calm mental state even when the stakes aren’t high is a great way to start.

Everyone will find their own way to cultivate equanimity. For some, it might be meditation or prayer; for others, it might be journaling. Some people cultivate their calm in therapy. Others might find the most profound peace when they’re exercising. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all solution, but whatever works best for you to allow your mind and body to find equilibrium—do more of that!

Here’s to finding calm in your storm.