Pressure Solution #20 – Breathe Naturally

In a pressure situation, when you’re on edge, with senses heightened and adrenaline pumping, it is likely your natural breathing pattern will become shortened and labored. This is a sign that you are close to losing your composure, that you are no longer in control of the outcome. Before panic sets in, use this pressure solution:


Losing composure is a common scenario in sports. A golfer with a lead makes a terrible shot, loses his composure the next time he gets the ball — and does it again. It also happens when the presenter is asked a difficult question, or the college graduate is thrown a curve by the interviewer.

Being able to depressurize is dependent on your ability to regain your feelings of control so that you can reduce your anxiety and overcome the sense that the situation is slipping away. At the same time, you want to put yourself back in control and restore your sense of confidence. The fastest, easiest, and most accessible way for you to do this is to bring your physical arousal under control via your breathing.

Body functions, such as heart rate, body temperature, breathing, blinking, and digestion, are controlled by the autonomic nervous system, or ANS. You are unaware of the workings of the ANS because it functions in an involuntary, reflexive manner. However, one of the responses you do have control over is your breathing. The strategy here is to use your natural act of breathing as a bridge back from mindless panic to an optimal condition to perform.

Anxiety speeds up your breathing, forcing you to breathe high up in your chest. By consciously slowing your breathing down and making sure you breathe from your diaphragm, you will be able to quickly calm yourself down.


This is an excerpt from Performing Under Pressure.




JP Pawliw-Fry is co-author of the New York Times bestselling book, Performing Under Pressure. He is keynote speaker, and the founder of IHHP, a global research and learning company that specializes in helping organizations and leaders leverage the science of emotional intelligence and performing under pressure.  The research and strategies presented in the book, keynotes and in IHHP’s training programs have been leveraged by numerous Fortune 100 companies, including long-term relationships with Johnson and Johnson, PWC, Goldman Sachs, HSBC as well as Olympic medal winning athletes. (Co-author: Hendrie Weisinger.) 


3d.pressure book cover-GTWABOUT THE BOOK

Co-authored by our own J.P. Pawliw-Fry, Performing Under Pressure will introduce you to the concept of pressure management, offering the latest science on how your brain responds under pressure, and many empirically tested strategies to help you overcome the sabotaging effects of pressure. For this book, we undertook a multiyear study of over twelve thousand people to answer the question: what is it about the top 10 percent of these individuals that helps them handle pressure more effectively and be successful? The book has been featured in featured in Forbes, INC., The Financial Times, Training Magazine and many more, and is a NYT and Amazon bestseller. Order your copy on AmazonBarnes and NobleAudible or Apple ibooks.


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