How to Remain Present and Steady During Stressful Situations

This past Wednesday in our business communication class, Paul Helmore from Schlumberger's sales department spoke to our full-time MBA class about the value of employees practicing the soft skills involved in sales.

During the lecture, he emphasized different aspects relating to this and among them the importance of public speaking. He drew attention to the importance of pausing and breathing when speaking. Similarly, during my almost three years of yoga practice, I have developed the skills to remain present and steady through breathing patterns and therefore found his advice fascinating.

During yoga practice, you start with your breath, focus on the way your body moves as you inhale and exhale. You let your mind wander to where it wants without judgment, and become aware of yourself.

When you are in a stressful situation, such as in front of a classroom full of people, you begin to rush your breathing. This creates shortness of breath and alerts your body that it is time to panic. Breathing is an involuntary action so we are apt to take it for granted and forget how important it is to our existence.

By remembering to take deep breaths you force your body to slow down so you can focus on the task ahead. Before a stressful situation a good breathing technique I use involves standing or sitting straight but in a relaxed position, breathing deeply and slowly, holding the air inside my lungs until they reach the top of my chest and then exhaling just as slow remembering to stay steady, breathe easy, and unclench my jaw, before starting all over again.

Doing this regularly will help you improve your posture which will exude confidence and the breathing exercises will help remind your body that you are relaxed and your tense muscles will begin to let go.

This is not always as easy as it sounds. I have been practicing yoga for years and even I sometimes forget to control my own breathing and slow down. However, when the world around you is going a million miles per hour, knowing that you can take life one breath at a time can be the difference between taking a sure first step or an unsteady rushed one.

Ana Moreno