Imagine that you have an interview for a big job you want coming up and imagine that job interview is with someone very important who has a reputation for being tough…
In the build up to this event, you will probably find yourself feeling very anxious and nervous. This will trigger the release of ‘fight or flight’ hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. As such, you will start shaking and sweating, your pupils will dilate, and your muscles will contract.
This stress response is designed to help you if you ever get into a physical confrontation or you need to run away, but when you are in a situation like an interview or a date, it really doesn’t help.
So the question is…what can you do to overcome this and stay calm even in high pressured situations?
Luckily, there are a few methods that are known to work quite well!
The first thing to do is to remember to breathe…and don’t just breathe…breathe deeply. When you do this, you will be able to instantly engage your parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ state. This state is actually the exact opposite of the fight or flight and it helps you to feel calmer and more relaxed.
The worst thing you can do when you start to panic is to breathe faster and more shallow as this makes you more stressed out and can eventually cause you to pass out if things get really bad!
Lean Into It
Another tip? Don’t worry about being stressed out. Too often we get stressed out and anxious and then try to fight it. Unfortunately, fighting stress is completely counterproductive as the more you fight, the more you raise your fight or flight response even more. Eventually this causes our heart-rate to run quicker, your muscles contract more, and you can become even more tense.
At this point, you are now stressed about being stressed!
So instead, the goal should be to help yourself accept the stress and recognize it for what it is. Stress makes you your strongest and most powerful. Instead of trying to fight it, instead let it happen, but put a positive spin on it. This might mean thinking of your situation as a challenge or it might mean thinking of someone you know who has handled a similar situation well. Rise to the challenge and enjoy your body getting worked up, ready to enhance your performance.
View stress as a SUPERPOWER!
If you can do all this, then you can eventually tap into a more enhanced performance without the feelings of dread or the crawling stomach that can come from regular stress. If you do this really well, then it can become a ‘flow state’ which is a state of heightened performance characterized by reduced activity in the frontal cortex.
So just concentrate on the task at hand, give it all of your focus, feel your body become more alert and toned and tell yourself: GAME ON!