Confidence has been popularly described as the quality or state of being certain. One needs to be certain about their abilities, qualities and, judgement, but some people struggle with maintaining their confidence.
An expert has revealed the simple five-step guide she employs to help those battling confidence and anxiety issues.
Dominique Antiglio, 42, a wellness expert from London, has revealed how simple breathing and visualisation techniques can help improve your focus and keep you calm.
In her best-selling stress book The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology, Dominque explains how she uses the ‘moving’ meditation method, which uses a mix of gentle exercises and reflection techniques.
Dominique believes that simply by being present, using goal-based visualisation and adjusting your posture, you can change your approach to difficult situations.
In an interview with the Daily Mail she explained that the body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode when regularly stressed, disabling simple abilities such as thinking clearly.
She says that Sophrology, a technique which uses combined aspects of yoga, meditation, hypnosis, and classic relaxation is the key to a happier life.
Dominique said: ‘Confidence can be tapped into, built further, stimulated and used to help you take the next steps in your professional or private life.
‘Fear is a strong emotion that often stops you from living life to the full and that can cloud your judgement.
‘You can learn to harness this emotion by training your ‘confidence muscles’ and challenge yourself to feel at ease, even in tough situations.
‘Sophrology has roots in neuropsychiatry and is a structured, step-by step-method that helps to overcome stress, build confidence and lessen fears.
‘It combines dynamic relaxation, meditation, breathwork, body awareness and visualisation techniques to bring the body and mind into ‘Alpha Brain Wave’ state.
‘This is where the body is completely calm yet the mind is clear and fully alert, ready to absorb the information you feed it.’
Step 1 – Recognise fear
The first step in any transformative process is to acknowledge what you feel without being judgmental about it.
Know that fear is a protective mechanism – it has a purpose. Fear stimulates a fight or flight response in the body and can be life-saving in dangerous situations, however it becomes a problem when this mode is simulated regularly when you aren’t in a life-threatening situation. This can make us lose the ability to think, perform or even enjoy the moment.
Being able to connect to fear consciously, even for a few seconds though, the awareness of your body is key. To do this, perform a quick ‘body scan’.
Sit upright, close your eyes and acknowledge the situation you’re in and what you’re worried about. Observe the sensations this fear creates in the body, where is it manifesting? Does your chest feel tight, do you have shortness of breath, where in your body do you feel most tense? Once you are able to pinpoint these, you can start to release this feeling by following up with the below Sophrology on-the-go exercise.
Step 2: Pump up the body
Now that you’ve located the tensions, follow through with a quick Sophrology technique I love and use for nervous and anxious clients called The Pump.
Focus on each tension you have pinpointed.
Stand tall, let your arms fall along your body and clench your fists.
Exhale through your mouth, then inhale through the nose and hold the breath.
As you hold the breath, ‘pump’ both shoulders up and down until you need to breathe again.
Exhale and relax your fists, visualising all tensions and fears draining through the hands. Repeat until the fear dissipates and you feel calm again.
Step 3: Train your mind’s eye
Visualisation is a powerful and proven way of conditioning your mind and body into a more positive-thinking state.
It can turn fear and anxiety into positive energy and helps you to anchor positive sensations from previous experiences you’ve had in order to apply them to future scenarios, or in the present moment.
The positive thoughts and feelings gained are so powerful they can stay with you for the rest of the day. This is why so many people have ‘routines’ before doing something major or important.
In a relaxed sitting position, close your eyes and remember an instance where you really succeeded at a task or overcame a fear.
It doesn’t have to be a similar scenario to the one you’re facing where you’re feeling nervous and anxious, just one that stands out for you.
Relive it in your mind and body – play it back scene by scene.
Take in all the details: feel the same sensations in your mind and body, your emotions at the time, the colours around you, any fragrances, and all sounds.
When you’ve reached the peak of this visualisation, consciously press your thumb and index finger together and notice that you’re doing this.
Your brain and body will start to naturally create the association between those positive feelings and this very specific gesture – call it your anchor.
So each time this gesture is performed, whether it’s before an interview or giving a speech, your mind and body will automatically summon the same positive and confident thoughts over any fears you might experience.
Step 4: Engage your breathing and abdominal muscles
When fear takes hold in the body, your breathing shifts from being deep and engaging the abdomen, to becoming shallow and located mostly in the chest area.
This is why your chest feels tight and you feel shortness of breath, fear stimulates this shift and locks the body up.
To free your body up from this fear response, you need to recentre your breathe back to the abdominal region.
Once you begin this shift, your body will naturally relax.
Do this by sitting upright, placing one hand on the tummy area and the other hand on the chest, and closing your eyes.
Breathe in and out naturally a few times to establish your rhythm.
Then start to observe the movement of your hands as you inhale and exhale.
Then imagine you have a balloon where you tummy is, and as you inhale the balloon grows, and as you exhale the balloon becomes smaller.
Continue until your breathing becomes deep and regular again, and you are breathing from the tummy instead of your chest – you should feel the tension from your chest release.
5. Engage both brain hemispheres
To increase clarity of thought and focus and to remove ‘fear fog’, you can use a powerful focusing called the Tratac.
Hold your arm straight in front of you and focus your gaze on your thumbnail.
Inhale through your nose and hold your breath while very slowing drawing your thumb towards the space between your eyebrows – your eyes will naturally cross.
Then close your eyes and exhale through the mouth. Then repeat. This technique, which engages your brain and body, increases your ability to focus on a single task.
Research shows that a simple ‘tracking the object’ exercise like this causes increased interaction between the right and left hemispheres of the brain to sharpen focus and clarity from the fog. Repeat three times or until you feel focused, engaged and calm again.