Many people don’t appreciate breathing for the tool that it is. Without even thinking, we breathe. It’s an automatic response, and so we tend to take it for granted.
However, because of it’s ability to help us focus and relax, breathing is one of my top tools for confidence. (In case you’ve missed it, I’m running a series on building confidence this week. So far, the tips have been to 1. invest in yourself, 2. teach others, and 3. have good posture.) Simply noticing how you breathe is enough work in this situation.
Although, in studying Pilates and yoga, we learn that most people only breathe at a partial capacity. Frequently, people breathe shallow breaths in to the top half (or even quarter!) of their lungs. This shallow breathing causes reduced oxygen and, therefore, reduced benefits from oxygen.
Benefits of Breathing
My STOTT Pilates instructor trainer, Tracy Maxfield, taught me to remember the benefits of deep breathing as the mnemonic, ORCA. When you take a deep breath, your blood is Oxygenated, you Relax, your Circulation improves, and you start paying Attention.
With more oxygen in your blood, your body works more efficiently. For example, extra oxygen helps your cells do a better job removing waste. This increased efficiency is not merely at a cellular level; it’s also obvious in improved organ function.
Your heart circulates oxygenated blood throughout your body as deoxygenated blood is returned. A deep breath puts oxygen into your blood, and the heart pumps it through your body.
When the body works smoothly and efficiently, it creates a state of relaxation. Muscles relax, the mind clears, and troubles drift away. As the fog clears, our attention becomes laser-sharp. All of a sudden, we have clarity, focus, and insight.
Breathing to Build Confidence
Let’s imagine that you’re about to give a presentation and, for whatever reason, you’re not feeling very confident. Before you enter the room or go on stage, take some time to breathe deeply. As you breathe, remind yourself that you have been selected to present this information to these people for a reason.
Breathe and feel your face soften. Relax all the muscles of your face, especially at the eyes and jaw. Notice how when you soften in these areas, you feel increased feelings of kindness.
For right now, you are the authority on this topic, no one else.
Imagine giving your presentation. If you give a good presentation, people will want to learn more; they will ask questions. This is a good sign. It shows that you gave an engaging presentation and got others interested in this topic.
Now, stand up tall, and go get ’em!
I also use breathing as a tool to help me not freak out when I need to get a shot or have blood drawn. When else do you use breathing to help keep you calm and confident? Let us know in the comments.
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