On my previous post, we have talked about how the right way of practicing along with the balance of leisure and sleep will help you progress better. On today’s blog we’ll be talking about some practices to take away stress and uncover the secret to self confidence.
Overstimulation Creates Overwhelming Stress
The most important thing to understand here is that all this overstimulation creates overwhelming stress. In fact, according to studies, nothing undermines willpower and discipline more than the stresses of everyday living.
Turns out, the more stress we encounter the more likely we are to overspend, overeat and overindulge in things we regret shortly after the indulgence.
Sadly, instead of reducing the stress and stacking a victory, most people make things worse by turning to more food, entertainment and shopping.
So how do you know you’re overstressed and what is the solution?
First off, if you simply don’t feel like you have much self-control, willpower or self-discipline and end up falling prey to those overindulgences, then chances are you’re overstressed.
But there is another key indicator to help you determine whether or not you’re overstressed, which conveniently, is directly tied to the solution.
This key indicator is called heart rate variability, which shows how much your heart rate speeds up or slows down based on how you breathe. Essentially, the more stressed out you are, the less variability you’ll have and the more likely your heart rate will be “stuck” in elevation mode.
This phenomenon has been proven in studies that show people with desirable heat rate variability are generally less stressed and exhibit noticeably larger levels of self-control than those with less variability.
One study conducted by scientists at the University of Kentucky found that people with more heart rate variability were more likely to resist temptation and deal with difficult challenges while being less likely to give up on difficult tasks, develop heart disease or experience depression.
Now can you guess what tool we can use to directly affect your heart rate variability into that desirable zone? If you guessed breathe deep, you guessed correctly.
By slowing down your breathing to 10 – 15 seconds per inhale and exhale researchers have found that you can increase your heart rate variability and instantaneously boost your willpower and ability to resist the effects of stress. If breathing long and deep isn’t the most powerful yet simple tool on the face of the earth, I simply don’t know what is.
Clearly, breathing deep is paramount to reducing stress and building confidence but in reality, when faced with the choice of breathing deep or biting into a fat doughy pizza or slugging down a glass of wine it may not provide enough mental agility to dance around a dopamine trigger.
For this reason, we’ll be combining the power of breathing deeply with another ninja tool called “Riding The Wave.” While this next tool is primarily a 2nd level “mind” strategy, it’s best used in combination with your breath so we’ll go ahead and cover it now.
Breathe Deep and Ride The Wave
When I first started surfing over 20 years ago, one of the first things I learned was how to use the wave instead of fight against it. Pretty much every time I fought against Mother Nature I lost but when I used her power I was able to gain the velocity to stand up and get “barreled.” This is the ultimate experience in surfing – when you’re in the tunnel of the wave and feel nothing but pure bliss.
In terms of practicing your passion and stacking victories, if that couch starts calling your name or that bag of chips begins to tip your dopamine trigger, typically one of two things is going to happen:
- You’ll give up and give in
- You’ll fight the urge
Obviously, giving up and giving in doesn’t get you closer to your buried treasure, but fighting the urge could be just as useless since fighting causes more stress on top of the stress you most likely already have.
Instead, if you simply breathe deep and ride the wave of discomfort for a few minutes, your PNS will kick in gear, you’ll feel relaxed, the stress will melt and before you know it, the wave will pass.
And here’s the cool part… If you can breathe deep and ride the wave when those urges hit, you’ll be way more likely to take action towards your passion and get barreled in the supreme confidence that comes from knocking over your most important dominoes.
But this isn’t just bro talk for surfers either; this strategy of “Riding the Wave” has actually been proven scientifically to help you find a better long-term solution without the negative consequences of instant gratification.
Research shows that a willingness to think thoughts and feel feelings without having to act on them is an effective method for dealing with a wide variety of challenges such as mood disorders, food cravings, and addiction.
In contrast, if you fight the wave of discomfort by trying to suppress negative thoughts and feelings, like self-criticism, worries, sadness, or cravings, this can lead to even greater feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, depression and even overeating. Ironically, this is exactly the stuff we’re trying to avoid.
Armed with this enlightening information, just know from here on out, if you suppress or fight the wave of discomfort by numbing yourself with distractions and instant gratification, you’ll only create more pain for yourself.
So before you make any desperate moves like buying a triple cheese pizza or sinking into the couch with a clicker in your hand, which you may later regret, breathe deeply and ride the wave for a few minutes. And if you need more convincing, perhaps research from scientists at Princeton University will push you over the top.
In a groundbreaking study on predictability, scientists proved that a very small amount of time delaying instant gratification can make a huge difference in helping you make a better decision.
So remember, when you’re feeling stress or lack of will power and discipline:
Breathe Deep and Ride The Wave
Eventually, over time, if you can use this strategy and consistently practice the things you’re not good at, you’ll develop a habit where not practicing feels like not eating lunch, like something is really wrong. At this point, you’ll be well on your way and begin to actually see your treasures manifest in real life.
That’s all for today, folks! If you’d like to learn more, check out the top-selling book Get High On Confidence by Chad Scott here. Also, don’t forget to take a deep breath and let the stress go away.