We all go through high-pressure and/or stressful situations in our lives. Whether it be a one-time event or an ongoing part of your life, it’s important to have approaches to handle these situations. Approaches to keep you calm, in the moment, and to show off your best self!
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How to Stay Calm
In the Moment
The moments before or during high-pressure situations can be challenging. It may not seem like it, but everyone gets nervous and everyone gets stressed. Never beat yourself up for having these feelings, we’re only human. While it’s a reality, the side-effects of stress, anxiety, and nervousness still aren’t fun. Here are a few in-the-moment techniques that can be used at height of high-stress situations.
Eat or Chew Gum – While it can be impolite to eat or chew gum in certain situations, chewing gum or eating may help ward-off anxiety. One study showed that chewing gum led to improvements in anxiety, mood, and fatigue.
Fix Your Posture – When you are hunched over or clenched, you likely to feel less confident and tense. Sit up straight and keep your shoulders rolled back for more confidence and improvement in mood.
Deep Breathing – If your heart is racing before a big speech or presentation, deep breathing is always your friend. Try breathing to the count of four, hold for one second, then breath out for four. Focus on breathing from your abdomen rather than in the chest.
Focus on an Object – If your mind is racing and the nerves are building up, try focusing on a single object in the room. For instance, maybe it’s a notepad or a clock on the wall. Study it. Even better if you can incorporate more than one sense, such as seeing the straight lines on the notepad and feeling the texture of the paper.
Repeat a Mantra – Come up with a short phrase you can remember and repeat easily. Something as simple as “this feeling will pass” is great. Or to get yourself pumped up, repeat something like “I got this!” Repeat the mantra until the unpleasant feelings pass.
How to Set Yourself Up for Success
When you know you have a big event or important meeting coming up, you have an advantage. You can plan for it! There are a number of techniques you can practice in advance of the big day to set yourself up for success.
Eat Healthy – We could all eat healthier (all the time), but pay extra attention to your diet before high-pressure situations. If you have any known foods that give you discomfort or an unsettled stomach, eliminate any of those. Go for foods rich in B vitamins, omega-3s, and magnesium which are all great for fighting off anxiety. Stay away from sugar and processed foods.
Get More Sleep – Most of us (at least in the U.S) are not getting enough sleep. We push the nights later and pull ourselves out of bed early to make it to work, school, or to care for the kiddos. Everyone’s sleep needs are different, but if you are consistently getting less than 7 hours per night, you’re hurting your body’s ability to adapt to stress.
Try Adaptogens – Adaptogens have grown in popularity in the U.S over the last decade for their ability to help bring the body back into a state of balance. Ashwagandha is one of the most popular adaptogens that has a number of anxiety reducing properties. It’s been shown to reduce stress and cortisol levels without any major side-effects.
Check Your Thoughts – Pay close attention to your automatic negative thoughts. We all get these. “I’m going to screw this up” or “I don’t know how to do this.” While you can’t stop these thoughts from popping into your head, you can control your response to them. Respond back with a logical thought. For example, after “I’m going to screw this up,” your response may be “I’m nervous because I’m never done this before, but since I practiced and I’m prepared for this meeting, I’m going to do well.”
About the Author
Marc is the creator of Mindful Searching, a content site dedicated to providing accurate information for those struggling with Anxiety disorders. Marc has improved his brain health through self-experimentation over the last 9 years. He has broken down personal and professional barriers leading to dramatic improvement in his life. Curiosity is his driving force.