How many of us have heard these words or said them to ourselves? A wave of nervousness and anxiety rushes over you and you tell yourself- or worse yet, someone else tells you that you need to “calm down.” (Like that EVER actually works!) As counter-intuitive as it is, calming down or chillin’ out may not always be the most effective antidote for anxiety and nerves.
I am a passionate advocate of practicing yoga and am trained in the Relaxation Response technique, both of which are amazing tools to foster inner peace and clarity. However, I recently read about a Harvard Business School study which found that when people felt anxious prior to undertaking a challenge (public specking, singing karaoke, taking an exam, etc.), they performed better when they told themselves to “get excited” rather than to “calm down.” It has long been known that anxiety and excitement illicit the same physical response in the body – increased cortisol (the “stress” hormone), adrenaline, and heart rate. The research has uncovered that we can use our physical response to our advantage by simply telling ourselves, .”I am excited! Let’s go!
I have often coached myself and my clients to approach a stressful situation with calm confidence. It seems to me that by taking a moment to pause and enjoy a few calming breaths, we may create the space and clarity to reframe anxiety and nerves into excitement and action.
Live Well/Be Well.