“Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.” – Zhuangzi

Stress seems to be a permanent fixture in our modern life, mostly due to our “always on” culture. The stress epidemic stems from many sources but boils down to one main problem – our obsession with productivity. Many people don’t even know how to relax anymore because it’s become so ingrained in us to remain busy at all times. When we DO happen to get down time, a lot of us don’t even know what to do with this gift.

Most people live solely in the past or future, and entirely skip the present. This creates a constant feeling of anxiety and depression, because the mind can never relax – it is always either reminiscing or dreaming. Now more than ever, people need to learn how to cope with stress in a healthy manner so they can thrive, not just survive. To some, this comes easily, and to others, it takes some practice and dedication to learn how to remain calm in the midst of chaos.

With that said, we’d like to discuss some habits that emotionally stable people have so that you can learn to incorporate them into your daily life.

Here are 8 common behaviors of zen people:

1. They control their emotions.

Easier said than done, we know. It seems that life always demands a reaction from us, because we have so much stimuli to sift through. However, not everything in life needs a reaction, despite what you might think. If someone cuts you off in traffic, for example, your initial reaction might be to curse them out, give them the finger, and try to get in front of them. Next time that happens, though, try to do the opposite. Just allow them to get in front of you and take a few deep breaths. See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? It might hurt your pride a bit, but you will save a lot of unnecessary stress and emotion by keeping your cool.

You can apply this technique to anything in life. Remember, once people have gotten under your skin, they have control over you. Once a situation has your blood boiling, you have already lost the battle. It’s important to learn when a person or situation warrants a reaction – otherwise, you live in constant fight-or-flight mode, and this is neither healthy nor effective.

2. Zen people practice deep breathing.

Did you know most people breathe wrong? Yes, you read that correctly; even though we’ve been doing it since birth, most of us breathe much too quickly and shallowly. Instead, zen people practice deep breathing, which offers many benefits to the human brain and body.

According to an article by the Mayo Clinic: “The benefits of deep breathing extend beyond in-the-moment stress relief. Many studies have found that deep, yogic breathing helps balance the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary bodily functions, such as temperature control and bladder function. This may help ease symptoms of stress-related disorders and mental health conditions such as anxiety, general stress, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

3. They take time for self-care.

It seems quite absurd that we tend to put ourselves last when the only person who can truly take care of us, is ourselves! We have to live in our bodies and minds our whole lives, and they take a lot of abuse. So, why do we feel that we can only treat ourselves to relaxation and indulge in peace when we “deserve” it? If you didn’t get the memo, you don’t have to do anything to deserve self-care. You exist, so therefore, you require some TLC from yourself, and lots of it!

Zen people don’t apologize for putting themselves first at times and putting the chaotic world on pause. They carve out time each day for things that bring them peace and joy, such as a relaxing Epsom salt bath, creative activities like drawing or writing, or maybe just going for a walk.

remain calm

4. Zen people stay away from drama.

To them, drama = stress, and they have no room for it in their lives. Calm people maintain their cool by choosing to eliminate drama, negative people, and stressful situations as much as possible. If they can’t avoid it, they use Habit #1 to help diffuse the situation so it doesn’t take control of them. Toxic people tend to engage in drama and gossip often, but zen people know that negativity will only kill their vibe, and don’t want any part of it.

5. They don’t hide their true selves.

A big part of having inner peace comes from bringing your authentic self wherever you go in life, and not holding back for the sake of others. The most zen people have mastered the art of being themselves, and have learned to not care what others think of them. You can’t possibly live a stress-free life if you put a mask on and pretend, so zen people have practiced the habit of doing and saying what feels right to them at all times. They’ve accepted themselves as they are, but also know where they need to improve and can admit their flaws. They don’t judge themselves too harshly however, which helps them accept others as well.

6. They accept reality as it is.

“What you resist, persists.” – Carl Jung

While they may not like it, zen people know that fighting reality will get them nowhere. In fact, it will just add more stress and anxiety to their daily life, which will get them even further from where they want to be energetically. Even the most zen people among us have their moments; however, they don’t allow themselves to remain stuck in a negative place for too long. They know that pain and stress are simply a part of life, and allow any negative emotions to come and go without judgment. Simply put, they don’t try to control reality; they just go with the flow.

7. They know how to say “No.”

Zen people know that they have a limited amount of energy and resources, and therefore, they don’t spread themselves too thin. They allocate their time and energy as needed, and they don’t do something if they simply can’t. If their boss asks them to stay late and they already have an obligation, they don’t feel bad about saying “Sorry, I can’t.” Even if the other person gets mad, the zen person knows that they only have control over their own emotions, and others have responsibility for theirs. Zen people have learned to move past people-pleasing behavior, because that only leads to dissatisfaction and stress.

8. Zen people look after their health.

They know that they can’t possibly remain calm if their mind and body don’t get looked after properly. Many studies have linked good gut health to better mental health, so zen people make sure to keep their guts happy by eating plenty of fruits and veggies, staying hydrated, and keeping active. They know that their bodies and minds need good fuel to thrive, so they don’t deprive themselves of their right to health.

Final thoughts

Being “Zen” might seem difficult in today’s world, but really, it just comes down to incorporating simple habits into your daily routine. After practicing them for a few weeks, you’ll start to feel calmer, happier, and more in control of your emotions, too!