What do you do when you’re under pressure? How can you be at your best when it matters most? If only there were something that could reduce that pressure—immediately.
Well, I’ve got good news for you. There is something that can immediately reduce your pressure, and it’s not tequila. First of all, tequila can be expensive. And second, tequila is not always around. The technique I’m going to tell you about is absolutely free, and it’s something that is always available to you, no matter where you are.
I call it box breathing.Box breathing” can reduce your pressure immediately. #ProducingUnderPressure Click To Tweet
I first learned this technique years ago, when I began speaking professionally. Getting on stage to deliver the opening or closing keynote to an audience of hundreds—sometimes thousands—is a high-pressure moment. Your heart is pounding with anticipation, and you definitely want to be at your best. That’s the time for box breathing.
Here’s how it works:
- Breathe in deeply through your nose, slowly counting to four.
- Hold that breath for another slow count of four.
- Breathe out through your mouth for, you guessed it, a slow count of four.
- Hold the empty breath for a slow count of four.
- Repeat the above steps.
I call it “box breathing” because the steps are like the side of a box: 4-4-4-4.
So why does this work? Several reasons.
First, when you’re under pressure, your breath tends to become quick and shallow. This is bad for two reasons:
- It increases the sense of panic.
- Shallow breathing means that your brain isn’t getting all the oxygen it needs. And believe me, when you’re in a high-pressure situation, you want your brain to have oxygen!
Box breathing is all about breathing slowly and deeply, which reduces the panic and makes your brain happy!
The second reason this technique works is that it forces you to focus on something other than the pressure situation. The very act of slowing down and concentrating on just breathing and counting shifts your energy from a place of anxiety to a place of calmness.Under pressure? Slow down your breathing! #ProducingUnderPressure #Leadership Click To Tweet
Finally, box breathing gives you a sense of control. One of the reasons that high-pressure situations are high-pressure is because the outcome is uncertain. You feel like you don’t have complete control over what’s going to happen. But by focusing on something you do have control over—your breathing—you reduce the uncertainty.
I was once talking about box breathing with a friend of mine who happens to be a retired police officer. He said, “Oh yeah, they taught us that on the force. We use it all the time. I still use it!”
Getting on stage to deliver a keynote is pressure. But it’s nothing compared to the pressure a police officer feels when confronting an armed suspect! If box breathing can help that police officer, then I’m guessing it can help you too!