She walked into the meeting and just didn’t look her usual happy self. Usually with a cheerful smile on her face she looked off somehow.
I asked how she was doing. Was she ready for her presentation?
“Terrible” she answered. “I’ve had a stressful morning and I’m feeling VERY anxious.”
The meeting was about to start. The room was filled with members and guests.
“Take some slow deep breaths.” I suggested. “Then look around the room and mentally name everything you see. Chair. Desk. Shoes. Etc. Do that until you feel centred and grounded.”
I left her and greeted other guests who were still coming in. The room was quickly filling up.
Just as the meeting was about to begin I saw her again and asked “How are you doing? Better?” Her usual smile returned and she was bright and energetic. “Better! Thank you. That really helped.”
As the meeting progressed she took the podium several times, speaking without a hitch. No one knew that minutes earlier she was feeing stressed, agitated and scattered.
When you are feeling irritated, anxious, scattered, stressed, etc. use this technique to get centred and back in the moment.
- Begin taking slow deep breathes. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
- Look around and name things you see with no judgement: chair, carpet, window, pen, etc.
- Ideally, point to the object and say the name out loud to engage your body, brain and senses. If there are others around you’ll probably want to skip this part.
- Do this until calm returns and you can focus.
“My role at work is in client services and it gets really stressful with deadlines on communication. I work with a very demanding consultant. Everything has to be completed yesterday, worded to perfection. That morning, my anxiety (which I have developed since I started working here) was so high. My heart rate was really high. When you mentioned that I should just look at something and say the name of what I was looking at, my heart rate went down. I was able to breathe and calm down. I have since used that technique and will moving forward.”
The next time stress has you feeling off balance and you have mere minutes to pull yourself together, use in the moment naming to come you back to your best self.