11 Nov

Breathing Exercises and Other Techniques to Remain Calm

If you’re looking to improve your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure, then there are numerous different techniques you can use. One of the most potent is to learn to control your breathing, which can immediately help you to feel calmer and avoid being pushed over into the stress response.

In this post, we’ll be looking at some breathing techniques you can employ to stay calm, as well as looking at some other techniques you can use.

Equal Breathing

Equal breathing is a technique from yoga, which essentially requires you to breathe in and out through your nose. While doing this, you maintain your breath for an equal amount of time on the in-wards and out-wards breaths. So you might breathe out for 4 seconds and then breathe in for four seconds.

This helps you to empty your lungs and fill them with fresh oxygen. What’s more, the slow and deep breathing will allow you to trigger your ‘rest and digest’ state which is similar but slightly different to the ‘fight or flight’ state and is controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system. This is a great way to stave off an anxiety response.

Breathing From the Stomach

Another breathing technique to try is simply to breathe from the stomach as we are naturally designed to do. If you try breathing right now and note whether your stomach or chest moves first, you may well find that you breathe by leading with your chest. This limits the amount of oxygen you can take in with each breath and that can increase stress.

Instead, breathe by first allowing your abdomen to expand. Use your transverse abdominis, also known as transverse abdominal, and expand your abdominal cavity. This will allow your diaphragm to drop into that space, opening up your lungs. You can then follow by expanding your chest and you’ll have more space in total to take in more oxygen.

Power Positions

Power positions are positions that have been shown by research to trigger the production of testosterone and other positive, stress-fighting hormones. One is the ‘victory pose’. If you simply stand with your arms above you in a ‘V’ shape, as though you had just won a competition, this will increase your production of testosterone, helping you to feel more confident and more driven. Of course it’s best to do this somewhere private before the event you’re nervous about!

 

08 Nov

A Basic Introduction to CBT

If you’re looking for a way to stay calm in a tense situation, for a way to be focused when all you want to do is relax or a way to control your anger – then CBT is something you should definitely consider.

CBT stands for ‘Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’ and is essentially a set of tools used for psycho-therapeutic interventions when treating anxiety disorders and other psychological conditions. This also happens to be the preferred method of therapy among most health institutions today.

The best bit? As well as being highly effective and proven in countless studies, CBT is also very simple to teach and can even be explained ‘remotely’. Here we will take a look at what CBT entails, why it’s so powerful and why it’s very much worth learning.

How CBT Works

CBT is essentially the natural evolution from behaviorism. Behaviorism is a school of psychology that views all of our behaviors and beliefs as being learned responses that have been trained via conditioning. Behaviors that have been rewarded become reinforced and we perform them more often. Behaviors that have been punished become less common.

CBT takes this principle and adds an additional cognitive element – showing that we can actually reinforce a behaviour through the way we think. If we have anxious thoughts about an action for instance, then we can find ourselves actually enforcing that association to the point of even developing a phobia. We don’t actually have to experience anything bad – our belief and predictions alone are enough to create the association!

The same can also work in reverse though and if you logically break down your fears, explain to yourself why you shouldn’t be afraid of them then eventually you can completely remove those phobias.

So how might this work?

A good example is a social phobia, which can be created through the belief that you’re going to embarrass yourself, that you’re going to faint or that perhaps you’re in some kind of danger. It is your job then to remove this association through CBT using techniques such as ‘thought challenge’. Thought challenging involves assessing just how realistic a fear is in a logical way and often you’ll be able to disprove your own fears to yourself.

You can then formulate these new thoughts as positive affirmations and actually talk yourself up before big events. Eventually, this can be enough to complete remove the phobia or anxiety – and it’s something that anyone can practice alone at home!