Some people have a gift for staying serene even in circumstances that make others feel anxious and overwhelmed. This doesn’t mean that they are overly passive—they just don’t stress out over annoyances or waste energy trying to strong-arm situations that cannot be controlled. Their secret: They have discovered how to calm themselves in mind, body and spirit…so they’re able to face life’s challenges without getting frazzled or despondent.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? You don’t have to be born with this talent. It’s a skill that can be learned and refined. Here are the three best techniques…

Give your mind a mini-vacation. Mental chaos often results from overburdening yourself with responsibilities (think of your never-ending to-do list) or fretting about matters you cannot influence (the weather, the traffic, the economy). What to do: When you feel such pressures mounting, remind yourself, There’s no need to think about this right now. As simple as that sounds, it works. Then do something easy and pleasing—sing along with the radio, sort your lingerie drawer, soak in a warm bath—and feel the joy of focusing your attention only on this one activity, letting other thoughts float gently away. This calming technique is called mindfulness. Try it for a few minutes or an hour…or, ideally, indulge for an entire afternoon without ever checking the clock, telling yourself that you have all the time in the world.

Baby your body. When you are overstimulated, your heart races and adrenaline rushes through your body. In the short term, this keeps you alert and ready for action—but when it happens too often or too long, it leaves you feeling wired and decidedly unserene. Whenever you feel the need to unwind physically: For several minutes, consciously move at half speed as you stroll around or do simple stretches…during this slow-motion respite, breathe deeply and luxuriate in the calming sensations seeping through your body. Physical touch is also extremely soothing, so take a few moments to stroke a pet or cuddle a soft pillow…smooth some lotion onto your skin…make gentle circles with your hand in the center of your chest…hug someone or simply say to a loved one, “Hug me.” They’ll be happy to oblige.

Nurture your spirit. Meditation is an excellent way to foster a sense of contentment and connection to your inner self and to the universe as a whole. Settle into a safe, quiet place…get into a comfortable position…then mentally visualize or gaze at a tranquil scene—a country landscape, a field of flowers, a starry sky. Find it hard to sit still? Try a “moving meditation” by moving your body in flowing motions as you let your mind float freely…or, since water is calming, take a walk on a beach or alongside a pond. If it’s consistent with your faith, recite the serenity prayer—God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…the courage to change the things I can…and the wisdom to know the difference. This classic prayer has helped countless people fill their souls with a spirit of serenity.

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