If you’re looking to improve your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure, then there are numerous different techniques you can use. One of the most potent is to learn to control your breathing, which can immediately help you to feel calmer and avoid being pushed over into the stress response.
In this post, we’ll be looking at some breathing techniques you can employ to stay calm, as well as looking at some other techniques you can use.
Equal breathing is a technique from yoga, which essentially requires you to breathe in and out through your nose. While doing this, you maintain your breath for an equal amount of time on the in-wards and out-wards breaths. So you might breathe out for 4 seconds and then breathe in for four seconds.
This helps you to empty your lungs and fill them with fresh oxygen. What’s more, the slow and deep breathing will allow you to trigger your ‘rest and digest’ state which is similar but slightly different to the ‘fight or flight’ state and is controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system. This is a great way to stave off a anxiety response.
Breathing From the Stomach
Another breathing technique to try is simply to breathe from the stomach as we are naturally designed to do. If you try breathing right now and note whether your stomach or chest moves first, you may well find that you breathe by leading with your chest. This limits the amount of oxygen you can take in with each breath and that can increase stress.
Instead, breathe by first allowing your abdomen to expand. Use your transverse abdominis and expand your abdominal cavity. This will allow your diaphragm to drop into that space, opening up your lungs. You can then follow by expanding your chest and you’ll have more space in total to take in more oxygen.
Power positions are positions that have been shown by research to trigger the production of testosterone and other positive, stress-fighting hormones. One is the ‘victory pose’. If you simply stand with your arms above you in a ‘V’ shape, as though you had just won a competition, this will increase your production of testosterone, helping you to feel more confident and more driven. Of course it’s best to do this somewhere private before the event you’re nervous about!