Forget Beta Blockers! Just Learn How to Breathe

Several months ago, I was speaking with a client about success habits within the leadership of her company. I was beyond shocked when she told me that most of the C-suite in her office take beta blockers right before they speak, to control their nerves. I thought to myself, 'WOW, there must be a better way to work with your nerves before you speak in front of your team, investors, clients, or anyone!' In fact, I’m certain there is a much better way. Here’s why.

According to the Mayo Clinic "Beta blockers, also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, are medications that reduce your blood pressure. Beta blockers work by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. When you take beta blockers, your heart beats more slowly and with less force, thereby reducing blood pressure. Beta blockers also help blood vessels open up to improve blood flow."

When someone takes a beta blocker, s/he is counteracting the natural gift we were given by nature. . . . energy. In effect, this person is crippling their natural enthusiasm! When we learn how to effectively channel this energy and lean into it, amazing things can happen.

So forget the beta blockers! Here are five things you can do to work with your energy instead of against it.

  1. Practice success and anchor that feeling - Anchoring is a technique used in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) that helps us awaken a feeling that we want to have, instantly. It’s best to learn anchoring from someone who knows how to do it properly. When you dig up memories and feelings of success and anchor that positive energy, instant confidence ensues, and the negative feelings associated with speaking in front of people are replaced with positive ones.
  2. Enroll in a public speaking program - Everything from communal college courses to Toastmasters, to privately customized corporate programs or even private individual programs, can help you learn to channel your nervous energy. Before you enroll, decide what you really need. All programs tackle different angles and emphasize different aspects of communication. The key is to make sure you do at least 50% if not more of the talking, instead of the trainer. You don’t want to just learn knowledge. You want to practice, practice, practice and build your skill sets.
  3. Exert your energy - Be different. Be yourself. Yes, you have to read the room and know your audience. But, in order to work with nervous energy, use your energy to bring the energy in the room up. Anytime I am getting ready to speak to a room full of people, I use my energy to emphasize my point - sometimes it's a loud exclamation or a quietly intense pause.
  4. Exercise before you speak - Going for a run (if you have the luxury) or getting physically active in any way (even jogging in place for 5 minutes) can help get out nervous energy and clear your mind. Something as simple as taking the stairs or strolling down the scenic route on the way to an event helps get the energy flowing and can help you channel the remaining energy.
  5. Breathe - It may sound cliche or obvious (don’t living things always breathe?), but conscious breathing is important. Learning proper breathing in a yoga or pilates class, or even breathing by pushing your belly out instead of your chest, can help you regulate your breath when your heart rate is up. It wasn’t until I took a “mama-lates” (Pilates for Moms) class until I learned how to really engage my core while breathing. We technically should be doing 3 dimensional breathing for our own health and wellness. So why not start now.

Once you learn how to master these skills you will, dare I say, get excited about talking in front of people!

You will have more command of your breathing and be able to channel your energy towards the message, amping it up when you need to and turning it down when it is more appropriate.




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