By Tina Dietz, guest columnist
If 2020 wasn’t stressful enough, now we have the Holidays, year-end deadlines and uncertainty about everything from tax rates and vaccine rollout, to the estate tax exemption to PPP loan forgiveness (or not).
What happens to your voice when you’re in a state of tension, stress, fear, worry or anxiety? Your shoulders naturally raise to protect the vulnerable throat and neck. That’s not great if you’re meeting with an important new client, delivering a presentation, or appearing on a webinar, podcast or radio show.
The throat is the main conduit between your body and your mind, representing the link between your thoughts and feelings. When you create more freedom in your throat and neck, you open your ability to express yourself more effectively and generate a greater sense of confidence and wellbeing.
The musculature of the throat is incredibly complex, with fine, interwoven connections that provide flexibility of movement. We often that freedom of movement for granted until we spend too many hours at the computer or experience high-stress levels. Then we notice that awful tension in the throat, neck and shoulders.
While there’s no machine at the gym to exercise your neck and throat, you can use your voice to release the tension in your throat and, really, your entire body.
Here are two techniques to consider for reducing your stress levels immediately:
- Sigh like my Italian grandmother.
My great-grandmother was a 4’5” marvel of efficiency and energy. In the afternoons, when she allowed herself to rest in her chair for a while (usually while crocheting something), she would repeatedly release a deep sigh. At the time I wondered why, but now I know that she was releasing tension in her body.
Take a deep belly breath in through your nose and allow yourself to sigh it out. (Bonus points for allowing any sound to come out with the sigh.) The long exhale combined with the vibration of the “ah” sound triggers your parasympathetic nervous system and your body’s relaxation response.
If you’re trying to feel more relaxed before you work with a client, enter a meeting or wind down at the end of the day, this is one of my favorite exercises.
- Try the One-Word Rant.
My e-book, Problem Solving in 10 Minutes, shares a creative problem-solving technique I developed based on our the human tendency to worry and complain. Often, our concern is driven by something we are deeply committed to. Otherwise, we wouldn’t get upset!
A shortcut version of this technique is the One Word Rant. The word is, “WHY.” Why? Because that’s the question we’re really asking ourselves at the heart of our stress and upset.
“Why is this happening?”
“Why are they doing/saying that?”
“Why can’t I feel better?
When we allow ourselves to express our frustration in a safe, quick and healthy way, the brain and body respond with a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that make us feel good, such as epinephrine and testosterone (yep, even for women) and we sense more clarity and feel more focused.
The technique is simple. But you’ll want to be in a private, quiet place to use it, since it involves some vocalization. I’ve been known to do the One Word Rant in my car.
Ideally, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or wider, and semi-squat like a sumo wrestler. Throw your hands in the air above your head, take a deep breath and loudly exclaim “WHYYYYY!” You don’t want to strain your voice or throat, but you definitely want to express your “why” loud and proud.
Yes, I’m serious. I’ve facilitated the One Word Rant in groups as large as 50 people0—including business leaders– and the results have been amazing. The simplicity of the “why” allowed the group to bond without having to explain or share a lot of personal feelings that may have caused them to feel vulnerable. At the same time, that shared experience of making a loud noise together in unison elevated the energy in the entire room. The group collectively felt heard and acknowledged.
The chemical cascade of hormones and endorphins the One Word Rant releases is simply wonderful. Generally, this technique is more energizing than the Italian Grandma Sigh, so I tend to use it if I’m having a frustrating day or if I need to boost my energy before speaking or a meeting.
The One Word Rant is also a fabulous tool to show your kids to help them learn to shift their stress and state of mind quickly, without a lot of “talking about it” that may be difficult for them to articulate or stressful to share with a parent.
We lead busy lives and we quick solutions. Whether heading to the podium, the studio, the conference room or simply into rush hour traffic, try these techniques this week to reduce your stress and keep yourself going and growing.
Do you have a surefire technique for calming your nerves when the pressure is on? Please share. I’d like to learn more.
#Podcasting #practicemanagement #thoughtleadership #stressmanagement