Next time you’re feeling nervous, try this…
And no one will even know you’re doing it…
Some of the best actors say they still get nervous before a performance.
We all get that “Butterflies in the stomach” feeling. But what if there was an easy, free way to get those butterflies to fly in formation?
The key is to notice how your body reacts when your nervous, and then counteract it.
When we get “up tight” in a situation, what happens? Our muscles tense, we might feel a bit of sweat, our hearts race and our breath becomes shallow and rapid.
The key to reversing this reaction is by controlling our breath. Our body watches our breathing like a band watches their conductor.
First, when we simply become aware of our breath, we already distance ourselves from the mental chatter often keeping us nervous.
The next step is to slow and steady our breathing.
Hmm, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a formula to do this?
Turns out, there are many formulas, better known as breathing exercises.
But which one to do? Some breath work can relax us to the point of sleep while other techniques can supercharge us like drinking a Red Bull spiked with expresso (not recommended, by the way).
Turns out there’s a great exercise for when we want to be calm and alert, steady yet energized.
It’s called Box Breathing, our Square Breathing.
The reason for the name is because the exercise involves four separate yet equal stages, like the four sides of a square.
The four stages are simple and couldn’t be easier to remember.
(note you can alter the durations as comfortable)
Breathe in for five seconds
Hold in for five seconds
Breathe out for five seconds
Hold out for five seconds
Repeat until no longer nervous.
- Breathe through you nose if possible, as it’s much healthier.
- Breathe down into your abdomen, so it looks like your stomach is inflating like a balloon with each inhale and deflating as you exhale (here’s why).
- A beginner might want to do 3 seconds instead of 5, or another person may want to do each stage for 7 seconds. See what feels best, just keep each stage equal.
You’ll find the more you practice, the easier it is to extend each breath.
But the goal isn’t too see how long you can inhale or hold you breath, it’s to create a comfy but even routine that brings you back to center.
So, the next time you’re feeling a bit of the jitters, whether you’re about to walk out on the stage, enter an important meeting, or embarking on your dream to write a novel, see if it works for you.
It’s free, healthy and has a ton of benefits, including mental clarity and instilling a sense of inner peace.
Yes, your breath really is that amazing!
For more about the power of breath, check out my other breath work stories…
Let’s go deeper … join me over at joemoody.com.