October is mental health month and the theme this year is Tune in. Tuning in helps to reduce stress and worry and make more effective choices.
Do you get anxiety or that feeling of dread when you’ve got:
- a big meeting coming up
- a performance review
- a job interview
- to talk to that difficult customer, colleague or family member
- or that fate worse than death – public speaking?
Here are my top tips to increase confidence and reduce stress and anxiety to meet any challenge in front of you.
Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and states that standing like a superhero for as little as 2 minutes changes our testosterone and cortisol levels, increases our appetite for risk, causes us to perform better in job interviews and generally configures our brains to cope well in stressful situations. Her TED Talk above explains it in detail.
Positive self talk
The way we talk to ourselves can really impact our confidence. Research shows that positive self-talk makes us feel good about situations, events and ourselves, and reduces depression and anxiety.
Health Direct has some great tips to help reduce negative self talk, improve positive self talk and where to get help if you need it.
Having notes, doing a practice run with someone you trust, visualising the meeting going well or doing training will help you be more confident and reduce anxiety. Preparation is key – if you know what you’re doing and plan for best and worst case scenarios, you won’t be caught off guard and your performance will improve.
Visualisation has many benefits – check out the research, benefits and do a visualisation meditation with headspace here.
A recent study by the University of South Australia found that smiling can trick your mind into being more positive. Smiling stimulates the emotional centre of our brains, which releases neurotransmitters to encourage a positive state and potentially boost mental health.
According to the Smiling Mind, mindfulness is ‘paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and without judgement.’ Being present, open and non-judgemental reduces worries, creates a sense of calm and even helps us sleep better.
I love the tools and techniques that Rachael Kable provides. Rachael is a mindfulness mentor, blogger and host of the top-rated podcast, The Mindful Kind. I used to binge listen to this podcast during my work commute. Now I listen in during breaks or short trips when I need a mindful tuneup.
We all know that moving our bodies is good for us and doing a workout or going for a run reduces stress and anxiety. My favourite ways to move and decrease stress are a little less intense…
Yin Yoga – it releases stress in our body’s connective tissues, activates the parasympathetic nervous system and relaxes our fight/flight/freeze response. Many studios have gone online to deal with the current physical restrictions and YouTube provides a myriad of free options. My go-to’s are Yoga with Adriene and Yoga with Kassandra.
Forest bathing – also called Nature Therapy. The sounds of the forest, the sunlight, and clean, fresh air help us relax to ease stress and anxiety. There’s no wrong way to do it! Just leave your phone at home and get out in nature.
Going barefoot – when our feet contact the earth, free electrons are taken up into the body. Among the many benefits, going barefoot lowers stress levels, reduces pain, muscle tension and headaches. Find out more from Barefoot Healing or go outside barefoot for 30 minutes a day and see what it does for you.
When we’re stressed, we don’t breathe properly. Our breathing can get shallow, which reduces our oxygen intake and impairs our nervous system functions. Breathwork, or conscious connected breathing, increases our confidence and reduces the feelings of overwhelm, fear and anxiety. It sounds simple, but there’s a lot to it as Jennylee from Breath and Be You explains.
Don’t forget your other senses
Listening to calming sounds like rain or rolling waves, or uplifting music like Katy Perry Roar can improve your confidence.
Diffusing your favourite essential oils or having a cup of chamomile tea can also bring calm and reduce anxiety.
Check out this related article where I discuss the impact of fear and stress on our bodies, share more ways to reduce stress and anxiety, and show the fascinating neuroscience behind our fight, flight and freeze responses.
What’s your favourite way to reduce stress and anxiety?