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Managing High Stress: How I Deal With It (And How You Can Too)

It's all about breathing.

You know what you’ve got, you know what you’re made of, you’re prepared to show your full potential. But then… the day comes and everything on your mind just… puff… disappears.

Your hands shake and your voice trembles. You start focusing on your physical reactions rather than on what you have to say or do.

Well, like most aspects of our body, this is something that can be trained. With the right methodology, discipline, and willingness to make nervousness stop, you can gain substantial control over these situations; leading you to excel in your job interview or any other high-stress circumstance of your life!

Here’s my story

I am ultra-sensitive, anxious by nature. I have had anxiety attacks, I have felt and still feel a weight on my chest in situations of high stress!

A few years ago, I had so much stress that it totally paralyzed me every time I would have an oral exam, which in my school was quite often.

It was extremely frustrating because I was a rather good student. I would study extensively and be always super prepared.

But when it came to expressing my knowledge in an oral exam, I would completely crack.

I would cry, suffocate and be unable to put together a single sentence.

After the exams, I would be distraught and feel ashamed. It would only contribute to further increase my lack of confidence. Sort of a vicious circle.

After a last catastrophic oral exam, my mother and I looked for stress management methods and one called my attention: Sophrology.

I was 16 years old, I had never heard of this concept which was far from the trend it has today, but the idea of managing stress through breathing management intrigued me.

What is sophrology?

Sophrology or mindful meditation is a technique for personal development, created by a Colombian neurologist: Alfonso Caycedo, whose objective is to improve our well-being and serenity through mindfulness.

Etymologically, “sophrology” comes from Greek: sos (harmony), phren (consciousness) and logos (study). It is, therefore, a matter of achieving – through simple exercises – harmonization of body and mind.

Sophrology is a personal approach aiming to find, develop and adapt our resources to our needs and objectives.

You will be able to stimulate different capabilities and resources that you’re not aware of or that you do not use much. 

You will be able not only to relax, concentrate, manage your stress and emotions, but also to have a more positive mindset.

It is also about helping you change the perception you have on yourself, others and the world. This will help you approach situations in a much more serene way in order to have fair and appropriate reactions.

To improve our well-being and serenity, sophrology uses techniques that will affect the body and mind through breathing, muscle relaxation, and visualization. Sophrology allows you to acquire a better knowledge of yourself and to better control your emotions and stress.

The impact of sophrology in my life

Intrigued, I met a sophrologist to whom I talked, at first, exclusively about my stress. Then, we worked more generally on who I was and who I wanted to become. Sophrology allows us to apprehend our stress but more generally to apprehend the person we are.

When I’d encounter myself in high-stress situations, I would engage in the following 5-minute exercise, which is extremely efficient if you feel a lot of nervousness and you need to be quickly calmed down.

You can do it wherever and whenever you want.

Do a 4-count breath:

  • Inhale through the nose, counting to 4
  • Block your breath, counting to 4
  • Blow through your mouth, counting to 4
  • Stop breathing, counting to 4

Do this exercise 3 times and your heart rate will drop!

The main goal is awareness. Perceive your stress/nervousness, acknowledge it exists, and carefully bring it down to its minimum expression. It changed my life.

How am I doing today?

Pretending not to feel any stress or nervousness anymore in high-stress situations would be lying to you. But today, I have much higher control over it.

I have completed oral exams or interviews in ways I couldn’t before. I owe that to sophrology.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I’ve reached a Buddhist-monk level of serenity. I’m always 3 hours early at an airport for any flight due to stress!

My stress management has still room for improvement, but evolution is real. I could never have done the studies I did or taken the risks I took without sophrology.

Originally published on The Way Factory

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