A simple, drug-free solution to life’s little moments
We all get nervous or anxious. It’s part of being a human. There’s nothing worse than the calm before the storm. Whether you need to make a speech, take a test, have that uncomfortable sit-down with your supervisor — everyone has anxiety sometimes.
There’s a simple, instant solution and it’s not some new-age supplement or powerful pharmaceutical.
The fix takes about 5–10 seconds and it won’t cost you a penny. It’s so simple this may be the shortest story you read today.
Take six slow breaths and count them to yourself as you inhale.
Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Make sure you use your diaphragm and not your chest. Your belly should expand and contract as you breath, while your chest should stay almost motionless.
If you want a longer solution for anxiety, you may want to practice mindful meditation. This is a more-focused breathing exercise. I wrote a story about mindful breathing here:
When we stop to breathe we short-circuit the anxiety loop
As I child I was terribly nervous about everything. My mother told me this little secret when I was in elementary school. Any time I had to perform or stand in front of class my stomach would turn inside-out.
This little trick worked for me then and it has worked ever since.
The focused breathing short-circuits our anxiety loop. We pinpoint on a single event and repeat it over and over in our minds. The heart rate increases. The amygdala is engaged. Our fight-or-flight response kicks-in.
We work ourselves into a mental frenzy and lose focus.
When we take six breaths, everything falls back to reality. This may not work for people suffering from clinical anxiety, but for most of us it’s the solution we need.
As a shy introvert I use this method to reduce anxiety a few times a month. These are normal responses to everyday life, but now that we’re no longer running from lions, our body’s ancient protection system kicks-in as if we were.
If you’d like to go deeper, here’s another meditation strategy I use frequently. It’s a new method I created, called The Road.