Photo by Shane Rounce

You are about to give a big presentation just 10 minutes from now. What happens? Your heart starts racing faster than a quadruple shot of espresso and your mouth is drier than the Sahara Desert.

Know the feeling? It’s totally normal. When we feel under pressure our physiology hijacks our behavior. In today’s post, we are looking at a simple solution to this very common challenge. A small life hack for boosting your performance and well-being just minutes before a big presentation.

Train Your Mind like a Muscle

Most of us get nervous before a big presentation. We fear failure, criticism, embarrassment or rejection, and our bodies react to our anxiety by e.g., tightening the muscles in our abs and throat.

Luckily though, we always have a tool handy that can help us reduce anxiety in such situations. Our breath. Via conscious breathing techniques, we can train our body-mind system the same way we train our muscles. It’s actually pretty cool!

Breathe for Two Minutes

So, how to go about it right there in the hallway just moments before your big presentation? First, set off two minutes. Then, start breathing deeply and deliberately. Inhale through the nose for three seconds, and exhale through the nose for six seconds. Do this for two minutes and that’s it!

When you prolong your exhalation like this your muscles and your brain relax and your heart rate is reduced, which calms you down. And the best thing: it has no negative side effects.

Master Your Breath and Improve Your Resilience

This breathing technique only works as a quick fix though. It doesn’t change your physiology for the better. For that to happen, you need to practice another breathing technique based on something called Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback. When doing that on a daily basis you actually change your physiology and become more resilient, which will continuously improve your performance in situations like the one above. Thought-provoking, right?

But you have to practice on a continuous basis for your physiology to change. Again, think of your mind as a muscle. You have to train on a regular basis to keep the muscle strong so that it has the capacity to do what you ask of it. In other words, to be able to reap its full potential you have to learn how to master your breath.

Up For the Challenge?

People have used breathwork as a health tool since ancient times. And even though lots of people have seen the power of it, still it is pretty much an overlooked approach when it comes to optimizing your performance and well-being.

Think about it. It’s right there. Our breath. We use it all the time. Every second of each day. And still, we haven’t learned to master it completely?! It is such a low hanging fruit. Why not start reaping its benefits right now?