Breathing is essential for managing stress and concentration. In this video, learn how to breathe effectively.
- Do you ever stop to recognize that often in stressful situations, especially when your confidence is low, that your breathing goes haywire? In moments of nervousness, during meetings, presentations, or difficult conversations, people can lose touch with themselves. Sometimes they stop breathing or engage in shallow gasps forcing their chest to pump and heart to beat fast. Often they're not breathing at all, instead holding their breath, and that leaves us more tense and less natural. When we engage in high-chested breathing or hold our breath we cut our oxygen supply, making it difficult for us to think or concentrate. Now within the context of communicating we stop breathing when we lose our place, forget what we want to say, or when someone asks a tough question. That's why breathing is especially important when you're listening to a question. I even advise people to write the word breathe on every page of their notes to give them reminders not to seize up. The reason we seize up is that our body's experiencing the release of stress inducing hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and noradrenaline released by what's known as the autonomic or involuntary nervous system. Juicing through your body, these hormones are headed straight for the central nervous system. The result, an increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, dilated pupils, decreased saliva in our mouth, we sweat, and of course we deprive ourselves of oxygen. Then what happens is we become disoriented, and experience the separation of cognitive functioning and verbal skills. That's where the brain and tongue part company. We need to breathe, because in that anxious moment we're standing on the precipice of fight or flight. Do I stay here and keep talking, do I freeze or do I run? Those are the choices we have when fight or flight happens. Well we know we don't want to freeze. We know we can't run as much as we would like to. So the only choice left is to stay and keep talking. And in that moment in time we gird ourselves for survival. We say to ourselves, please don't let me screw up, please don't let me screw up. And our sole objective in that instant is to get out of there unscathed, in one piece, while we continue to hold our breath or barely breath at all. All the while our heart is beating like a jack rabbit and our brain is running on fumes. Knowing how to properly breathe helps us. Learning to breathe properly helps soothe the autonomic nervous system through Ujjayi breath, and those of you familiar with yoga have likely heard of it. Ujjayi breath is diaphragmatic breathing. The oxygen we take in first fills the lower part of our belly and then rises up through the chest. Increasing the amount of oxygen we take in helps build internal body heat. And what that does is naturally relax the sympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system. That's the part of our nervous system that triggers panic. So here's how to stay calm and focused before and during a presentation, especially if you're experiencing anxiety. Pull your belly in slowly as you exhale through your nose. Then as you inhale, relax your belly muscle, all the while do not move your chest. Breath out, belly in, breathe in, belly out. Nice and slow. Breath in, belly out, breath out, belly in. Make every breath last three to five seconds, breath in, belly out, breath out, belly in. Use your nose, it warms and filters the air. Breath in, belly out, breath out, belly in. Breathing this way helps you relax and think more clearly. Breathe in, belly out, breathe out, belly in. Breathing this way actually puts pressure on the diaphragm, which in turn activates what's called the vagus nerve, which produces the relaxation response. Remembering to breath this way does require discipline, I mean after all, we're reversing a lifetime of habit. And it's not just the way to breathe to induce relaxation, it's a form of breathing that serves us well 24/7, especially those of us prone to anxiety.
- Organizing your thoughts
- Speaking slowly, naturally, and confidently
- Breathing properly
- Using your body to reinforce speech
- Managing facial expressions
- Handling nervousness
- Voice modulation, eye contact, and gestures