You know what you’ve got, you know what you’re made of, you’re prepared to show your full potential. But then… the day comes and everything on your mind just… puff… disappears.
Your hands shake and your voice trembles. You start focusing on your physical reactions rather than on what you have to say or do.
Well, like most aspects of our body, this is something that can be trained. With the right methodology, discipline, and willingness to make nervousness stop, you can gain substantial control over these situations; leading you to excel in your job interview or any other high-stress circumstance of your life!
Here’s my story
I am ultra-sensitive, anxious by nature. I have had anxiety attacks, I have felt and still feel a weight on my chest in situations of high stress!
A few years ago, I had so much stress that it totally paralyzed me every time I would have an oral exam, which in my school was quite often.
It was extremely frustrating because I was a rather good student. I would study extensively and be always super prepared.
But when it came to expressing my knowledge in an oral exam, I would completely crack.
I would cry, suffocate and be unable to put together a single sentence.
After the exams, I would be distraught and feel ashamed. It would only contribute to further increase my lack of confidence. Sort of a vicious circle.
After a last catastrophic oral exam, my mother and I looked for stress management methods and one called my attention: Sophrology.
I was 16 years old, I had never heard of this concept which was far from the trend it has today, but the idea of managing stress through breathing management intrigued me.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about: Sophrology or mindful meditation is a tool for personal development, developed by a Colombian neurologist: Alfonso Caycedo, whose objective is to improve our well-being and serenity through mindfulness.
A little bit of context:
Etymologically, “sophrology” comes from Greek: sos (harmony), phren (consciousness) and logos (study). It is, therefore, a matter of achieving – through simple exercises – harmonization of body and mind.
Sophrology is a personal approach aiming to find, develop and adapt our resources to our needs and objectives.
This method offers us the opportunity to reach a modified state of consciousness, in between awake and asleep.
You will be able to stimulate different capabilities and resources that you’re not aware of or that you do not use much.
You will be able not only to relax, concentrate, manage your stress and emotions, but also to be more positive.
It is also about helping you change the perception you have on yourself, others and the world. That will help you approach situations in a much more serene way in order to have fair and appropriate reactions.
In short: A vast and ambitious methodology!
To improve our well-being and serenity, sophrology uses techniques that will affect the body and mind through breathing, muscle relaxation, and visualization. Sophrology allows you to acquire a better knowledge of yourself and to better control your emotions and stress.
Back to the story!
Intrigued, I met a sophrologist to whom I talked, at first, exclusively about my stress. Then, we worked more generally on who I was and who I wanted to become. Sophrology allows us to apprehend our stress but more generally to apprehend the person we are.
When I’d encounter myself in high-stress situations, I would engage in the following 5-minute exercise, which is extremely efficient if you feel a lot of nervousness and you need to be quickly calmed down (i.e: when looking for a job, before an interview, before a presentation, before asking for a raise).
You can do it wherever and whenever you want.
Short and handy 5-minute exercise
Do a 4-count breath:
- Inhale through the nose, counting to 4
- Block your breath, counting to 4
- Blow through your mouth, counting to 4
- Stop breathing, counting to 4
Do this exercise 3 times and your heart rate will drop!
The main goal is awareness. Perceive your stress/nervousness, acknowledge it exists, and carefully bring it down to its minimum expression. It changed my life.
How am I doing today?
Pretending not to feel any stress or nervousness anymore in high-stress situations would be lying to you. But today, I have much higher control over it.
I have completed oral exams or interviews in ways I couldn’t before. I owe that to sophrology.
I used to attend private soprohlogy sessions for stress management.
But I understand if you may not have the desire or the budget to do the same. You can also find lots of free resources online.
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I’ve reached a Buddhist-monk level of serenity. I’m always 3 hours early at an airport for any flight due to stress!
My stress management has still room for improvement, but evolution is real. I could never have done the studies I did or taken the risks I took without sophrology.
About the Author
My name is Florence Lenoir, I’m the co-founder of The Way Factory, a blog dedicated to helping people have meaningful lives through their careers. I strive to help others have an integral perspective over their lives, as opposed to seeing them as separate, unrelated instances. In addition to this, I provide knowledge that is useful for the realization of your dreams, like this Interview Guide.