Photo by Loren Kerns
Imagine this: you’re presenting at a big meeting tomorrow that could take you from being “kind of a big deal” to being legitimately a big deal. Game face: on. Pinterest-inspired outfit: carefully selected. Alarm clock: set three times on your iPhone. You’ve got this. Until…
You shut all three alarms off in your sleep and wake up late. No time for coffee. When you get to work, Sandra from accounting totally eyes up your outfit – and not in a good way. It’s time to turn things around. But how do you keep your game face on when it’s crunch time and everything seems to be going wrong?
We know about the power of positive thinking, but some days, it can be harder than others to see the bright side – and it doesn’t help when the pressure’s on to be at your best. Here are three quick fixes for when you’re feeling less than stellar.
In social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk, “Your body shapes who you are,” Cuddy teaches us what our posture does to affect the levels of testosterone and cortisol in our brain, which, in turn, affects our feelings about ourselves.
In other words, even if you’re feeling not so hot about your fine self, standing tall and peacock proud has been proven to have a positive impact on how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us.
Cuddy says that you can put this into practise by doing powerful poses before that big meeting, job interview, or date – whatever you need to pump up those tail feathers for. Sneak away for a little bathroom break and spend a few minutes in powerful stances: keep your feet apart, chin up, and put your hands on your hips or raise them above your head in a V shape.
When you’re done feeling silly, holding this stance for a couple minutes will help boost those alpha-hormones and get you prepped for success. It’ll be our little secret.
Fake it ‘til you make it, Baby.
Realistically, you may not have time on a crazy day to squeeze in a workout or yoga sesh before your pressing engagement – and even if you did, that “post-workout glow” might not be the professional look you’re going for during that important presentation. But, sitting at your desk can keep your mind stagnant, and those negative thoughts are not what you want to get stuck on repeat during a crucial moment.
Walk around while you practice your presentation. Give yourself a hug. If you can, sneak a little mini-dance party in. Movement – even simple movements that you can do from anywhere – releases the nurturing hormone oxytocin, improves focus and concentration, and helps to reduce stress.
When you’re really down to the wire or need to discreetly turn things around, this is something you can do even in the midst of a stressful situation: just breathe. Many of our physical reactions to stress are caused by how we are breathing.
If you’re with other people, pause for a moment and take a deep breath or two before continuing. Better yet, if you are alone, or can find a way to quietly sneak this in, do some breathing exercises.
I like the 4-7-8 trick: breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds and then slowly exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat this consecutively without taking breaks in between until you start to feel the calm floating in.
Even the simple act of breathing can help slow your heart rate, bringing you out of fight-or-flight mode, and returning your thinking capacity back to a normal state.
Try these on their own or all together for a killer combo for success. And the next time Sandra gives you the stink-eye, tell her she looks stressed and hand her this article.
Faye Armstrong is a life coach based in Winnipeg who is passionate about living life to the fullest and helping others do the same. For a little motivation or to learn more about personal coaching, visit http://www.fayeaarmstrong.com.