Imagine that you have an interview tomorrow for the dream job you’ve always wanted. Now, imagine this job interview is with the CEO of the company, who has a reputation for being tough. Nerve racking!
You’re probably feeling very anxious and very nervous. These feelings often triggers the release of fight or flight hormones, like adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine, that leaves you shaking, sweating, your pupils dilated and your muscles contracting involuntarily.
At the same time, these are also the hormones that kick in urging you to run in the opposite direction when you get into physical confrontations. But when you’re in situations like an interview or a first date, running is not really what you want to do, on the contrary you want to go forward boldly.
So the question is what can you do to overcome your anxiety and stay calm even in high pressured situations?
Luckily, there are a few methods that have been known to work quite well…
Remember to breathe. And don’t just breathe – breathe deeply. Take several deep meaningful breathes. Feel the coolness of your breath when you inhale, mentally follow it as it enters and slowly goes through your body and out through your mouth. When you do this, you will be able to instantly engage your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ state that we can go into. This state is actually the exact opposite of fight or flight and it helps us to feel calmer and more relaxed.
The worst thing you can do when you start to panic is to breathe faster and more shallowly, as this just makes you more stressed and may eventually cause you to hyperventilate and in some instances to pass out!
Lean Into It
Another tip? Don’t worry about being stressed. Too often, we get stressed and anxious and then try to fight it. Unfortunately, fighting stress is completely counterproductive as the more we fight, the more we raise our fight or flight response even more. Eventually this causes our heart rate to run more quickly, and our muscles to contract making us become even more tense.
At this point, you’re now stressed out about being stressed!
So, simply accept that you’re stressed and recognize it for what it is. Often stress helps you become the strongest and most powerful you. Instead of trying to fight it, just let it happen while giving it a positive spin. This might mean thinking of your situation as a challenge, or it might mean thinking of someone you admire that you know has handled a similar situation well. Rise to the challenge, and enjoy your body getting worked up and ready to enhance your performance.
If you consciously use these two methods, then you will eventually tap into an enhanced performance without the feelings of dread, or the roiling stomach that can come from anxiety and stress. If you do this really well, then it can become a ‘flow state’ which is a state of heightened performance characterized by reduced activity in the frontal cortex.
So just concentrate on the task at hand, give it your full focus, feel your body become more alert and tell yourself: “game on, I’ve got this!”
Congratulations, on getting your dream job!