Ever been caught up in a flurry of activity and somehow you find yourself in a stressful knot? Like just before an important meeting, job interview, exam?
This happens all the time. The trick is to have tools to bring you into a calm and grounded state. A state where you are empowered and alert – confident and stable.
There are many ways to achieve this. There is no such thing as the right way. I recommend learning a few; practice them often and modify them so they work for you whenever you need them. Above all, practice, practice, practice.
Here’s one quick method that I use all the time:
Prior to an event, meeting, interview, exam etc… I do a quick check-in. If I suspect some unnecessary tension, I acknowledge that I have a bit of stress. Then, I make time for the following:
- I will walk boldly for five minutes; breathing intentionally and deeply to get some blood flowing. Shoulders back. Chest out. Confident strong strides.
- I drink water. Plain water to ensure proper hydration
- I go to the washroom to freshen up.
- I find a comfortable place away from the event (but close enough so I am on time for my appointment).
- I sit comfortably.
- I stare off into the distance and find an object to focus on. Doesn’t matter what.
- I bring all my attention on to the object and notice the effort it takes to stare at it.
- I then broaden my focus to include everything in my view… especially the peripherals.
- I am now staring at nothing in particular but everything at once.
- As I am distracted by thoughts, feelings or sensations, I do not fight them. I acknowledge the distraction and GENTLY go back to the task of starring at the object.
- In this state I take a few deep breaths and see myself as a confident, articulate communicator.
- I expand my awareness now to include the whole space around me.
- I allow myself to settle into the chair with particular awareness of my body’s contact with the furniture.
- I’m even aware of my socks in my shoes.
- I’m aware of everything all at once and nothing in particular.
- I continue to ground into the chair and into my relaxed normalized breathing.
This method is an excellent preparation for presentations, interviews and exams.
With practice, this exercise becomes easier and quicker. It is a very basic form of mindfulness. Being “in the moment” is a calming and deliberate state to nurture.
Some additional tips:
- Don’t wait until you are in a full blown panic attack. Nip excess stress in the bud and limit it to a manageable level.
- Do a warm-up activity before the event officially starts.
- Have a chat with some safe, fun people.
- Do a simple card game (solitaire, crazy eights).
- Do a puzzle (sudoku, crossword).
- Listen to a musical playlist that will get you in the right mood for the event. Always upbeat and confidence building.
- Create an image of success in your mind and rehearse the activities with an emphasis on a progressive mood.
Create your own method and practice often. Believe it or not, you can even have fun doing this!