We all know that horrible moment of panic or terror, especially before speaking in public. It feels like our brain shuts down completely, the words we need to remember feel like they will never come and we will never make it through the oncoming train wreck of just saying what we have to say, no matter how big or small our audience is.
There is a solution and it is as close as your breath. In fact, it is your breath!
In both my professional speaking coaching and inspirational new book, Words to Thrive By: Powerful Stories of Courage and Hope, I give lots of examples about how to improve your health and overall well being through meditation, visualization, belief in yourself, taking risks of courage, reframing your experience so it moves from tragedy to triumph.
So here's another breathing exercise tip that will help you not only in your life but also in your work, whether it is a momentary anxiety or when your anxiety looms over you when have that huge presentation, "Do or Die," "Winner take all," "Everything On The Line" kinds of moments.
How to Relax
So how do we learn how to relax and use our breathing in order to accomplish that? The good news is everyone can do it and it's not as hard as it may feel to you right at this particular moment.
On the one hand, according to Biing-Jiun Shen, Ph.D., a clinical/health psychology professor at Ohio University in Athens, "Almost every person experiences anxiety periodically and this can be beneficial. An occasional burst of anxiety can help you respond effectively to life's challenges." This is what I would consider a healthy moment of anxiety, meant to get you through a short period of time.
On the other hand, we also now know that prolonged anxiety can seriously undermine your health and contribute to all kinds of diseases from cancer to complete physical and mental breakdown.
Julie L. Pike, Ph.D. who is a psychologist at the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center in Durham N.C. says, "We know that what happens in the mind affects the body, but carefully controlled studies are being published now that show a harmful connection between anxiety and physical health...In other words, this is an intuitive belief that is now shown by (published) research."
So here's another breathing exercise tip that will help you not only in your life but also in your work, whether it is a momentary anxiety or when your anxiety looms over you when have that huge presentation, "Do or Die," "Winner take all," "Everything on the line" kind of moment.
FOUR SQUARE BREATHING-
"When you're anxious it takes a little while for the brain to get the message that it's safe to calm down."
First of all I want to extend my thanks to thanks to Julie L Pike, Ph.D. for sharing this breathing technique in the February 2012 American Heart Association magazine, "Heart Insight."
We all know it's a viscious cycle: During bouts of anxiety, your breathing can get faster and shallower, leading to feelings of even greater panic as your body struggles to get enough air. But if you slow down your breathing, you're halfway to feeling calm. Pike advocates so-called four-square breathing as an effective self-calming technique: I have practiced and tested it and it really works for me.
Four Square Breathing:
1. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds.
2. Hold that breath for four seconds.
3. Exhale for four seconds.
4. Pause for four seconds before starting the next breaths.
Pike suggests doing a set of at least 10 breaths: "When you're anxious it takes a little while for the brain to get the message that it's safe to calm down."
So give it a try and let me know how it goes for you. I hope it helps being a little peace and calm and relaxation into your life.