Everyone has had a week when nothing goes right. You put your foot in your mouth at a meeting, wear shoes you regret by lunch, miss a friend’s birthday dinner and drop your phone in a puddle.

It is possible to turn around the momentum in a terrible week. You can’t fend off all bad luck, but if you change your reaction, it can have a very powerful effect.

Technology executive Sonita Lontoh made an effort to stay calm earlier this month when a string of mishaps disrupted a trip to Albany, N.Y., where she was set to make a presentation. A flight delay caused her to miss her connecting flight in Chicago. The airline refused to retrieve her bags or pay for a hotel, so she found a room and checked in sans fresh clothing. Just as she was getting ready to fall asleep, she spilled a glass of water on her phone, cutting off access to her work email.

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The next morning, she raced to catch an early flight and left her laptop charger in the hotel room. Arriving in Albany, she was told her luggage was still in Chicago. “I really wanted to just scream and lose it, but I told myself that would make me even more stressed out,” says Ms. Lontoh, who lives in San Francisco.

Rather than panicking, she took concrete steps to regain control. She hurried to a store, bought a new outfit and freshened up in a public restroom. By remaining calm, she says, “you handle yourself better, and you handle the other person better,” making others more likely to help. And staying calm also frees you to “focus on the task at hand and have faith that things will work out in the end.”

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