Breathing techniques for stress, anxiety and public speaking
Breathing techniques for stress, anxiety, and public speaking
Perhaps you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or you’re about to speak in public, in front of a big group, or perhaps there are huge stakes in this meeting. You’ve heard about breathing techniques and how they can help you. But you don’t know where to start.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that when you get stressed, you get out of breath. In this case, breathing techniques would be a great addition to your toolbox!
The following breathing techniques are easily integrable to your day, even when you’re sitting in an open space. Or you can practice during a short break, while walking, or standing.
Start with your exhale
Inhaling deeply may not always calm you down. Taking a deep breath in is actually linked to the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight-or-flight response. Exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which influences our body’s ability to relax and calm down.
When we feel anxious or under stress, it’s easier to breathe too much and too quickly which may lead you to hyperventilate. That’s why a great solution would be to start with an exhale.
- Before you take a big, deep breath, try a thorough exhale instead. Push all the air out of your lungs.
- Simply let your lungs do their work: inhaling air, with a rhythm that feels comfortable, but not to. quick.
- Next, try spending a little bit longer exhaling than you do inhaling. Try inhaling for four seconds, then exhale for six.
- Try doing this for 10 times.
This breathing technique comes from the ancient practice of pranayama yoga. The idea is that you inhale for the same amount of time as you exhale.
- Close your eyes if that feels comfortable, or soften your gaze. Pay attention to the way you normally breathe for a few breaths.
- Then, slowly count 1-2-3-4 as you inhale through your nose.
- Exhale for the same four-second count.
- As you inhale and exhale, be mindful of the feelings of fullness and emptiness in your lungs.
This breathing technique can be a powerful stress reliever while heightening performance and concentration.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth, getting all the oxygen out of your lungs.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. In this step, count to four very slowly in your head. Feel the air fill your lungs, one section at a time, until your lungs are completely full and the air moves into your abdomen.
- Hold your breath for the count of four.
- Exhale again through your mouth for the same slow count of four, expelling the air from your lungs and abdomen. Notice the feeling of the air leaving your lungs.
- Hold your breath for the same slow count of four before repeating this process.