We’ve all been in situations where nervousness has created far too many butterflies fluttering away in the belly and this has led to feelings of nausea. It may be silly to let nerves overwhelm us but, it still happens. The answer? Breathing techniques to tame those nerves.
When you feel nervous or anxious, your breathing changes. Sometimes, you hold your breath, or, the opposite, start to breath too quickly. When we are nervous, there are real physiological changes. Tension headaches and muscular tension is common. Healthy breathing is important, because it is calming to the mind and body. So, with the right type of breathing techniques, it’s possible to reduce any concerns you might have.
Why do nerves get the better of us?
When we set great expectations for ourselves, we naturally pile on the pressure. Self-imposed pressures are considerable, and may well be caused by other factors than just the desire to do well. Consider this, you are in a work situation and have applied for a new role within the business. You really need this job. It will change your life. It’s understandable that with this knowledge, you feel the pressure to ‘wow’ those who are interviewing you. If nerves take hold, you may feel self-conscious or, make a poor first impression. If you are asked to present to your peers and presenting is way outside of your comfort zone or, if you have been instructed to manage a high-level meeting, again, those tell-tale nerves may begin to manifest.
So, what can we do to quell these nerves?
First, let’s consider why this sense of nervousness affect us so badly. Let’s put a positive spin on it and consider the real reason for the nervousness. Perhaps you need to impress your employers. If there is the risk of redundancies or, you need to get the job of your dreams, this would automatically make you nervous. This is in addition to merely wanting to do well for personal pride.
When nervousness coincides with that inner desire, it’s actually a good thing. Instead of resenting this sense of nervousness, use it instead to incite greater productivity leading up to the event. Perhaps you prepare for the job interview. This way, nerves are used in a positive manner to propel you towards the goal.
The problem with nerves is that they can impact on multiple levels and could make you second-guess yourself. Consider the nervousness associated with exam stress. When the results of the exam are paramount to a future career, it means everything. So, let’s take it in context, sometimes, nervousness is fueled to a greater level by the need to do well. Even so, nerves must be controlled.
So, how do you master these nerves?
It’s important to note that you will never completely stop feeling nervous. But that’s okay. It is because you want to do well. Preparation is a great way to stop nerves from jangling too much and halting your progress too. You may feel like a coiled spring inside, but breathing techniques will help to reduce this inner tension. There are tried and testing breathing techniques that really work and importantly, the more you practice, the easier it is to manage your nervousness. Ready to start?
Alternate nostril breathing
Out of the many breathing techniques available, this one works amazingly quickly and is a personal favorite. It is also one of the simpler techniques to utilize and you will master it quickly. All you need to do is sit quietly in a place where you will not be disturbed and give yourself five minutes to practice this technique prior to your big event. The idea is to breathe in and out but utilizing one nostril at a time.
You can try it by placing the right thumb over the right nostril and inhaling through the open left nostril. Once the inhalation is complete, use your ring finger to close the left nostril and to exhale through the right nostril. Then, inhale through the right nostril, replacing your thumb over that nostril while removing your fingers from the other nostril and exhale. This forms one round. Continue until those nerves start to reduce.
This is another simple but highly effective breathing technique that will help you to feel better quickly. Find a quiet space and prepare to focus on your breath. Place your hands on your upper abdomen, finger-tips lightly together. You need to breathe deeply through the nose, feeling your diaphragm inflate and then, focus on moving the air to the bottom of the lungs, filling them up. Count to 4 as you do so. Hold the breath for a count of 4 and then, exhale slowly, counting to 4 and pay attention to your body as your diaphragm depletes and your lungs empty. With your fingers in the right place, you will feel them move as the diaphragm extends and reduces. Repeat as necessary.
Inhale, hold, exhale breathing techniques
This technique may require a little more practice than the others as the ‘hold’ is longer and, you may struggle to extend the breath for this duration. Inhale deeply and slowly for a count of 4 . Tune into the movement of the breath as your lungs fill. Hold the breath for a count of 7 and then exhale, this time, controlling the breath for a count of 8. Repeat for several rounds until you start to feel that sense of nervousness dissipate. Don’t worry if you cannot manage this one straight away. Build up to it.
These may seem too simple to really be effective but trust me, they work beautifully. In time, you will find that these breathing techniques become instinctive and you can use them at any time as needed. Breathing techniques help you to inhale and exhale more fully and to connect with the breath. They boost mood, ease stress, help you to relax and to still those jitters. They can certainly be the difference between letting nerves overwhelm or, being able to quell them sufficiently to perform in the most difficult of nerve-racking situations.
Nerves are not your enemy. Use them to help you perform to the highest level but don’t let them manage you. Breathing techniques can become part of your arsenal in a stressful environment where you need to show your worth and where you want to shine. Importantly, they are so easy to do so it makes sense to make use of them, right?