Well-being: You can’t wear a crown if your head is down

In this latest well-being column, corporate wellness coach Tracy Forysth provides five physical exercises to help boost your confidence and self-belief.

We all know that when we are stressed and panicky our breath gets short and shallow. In the old days the remedy for a panic attack was to put your head between your knees and breathe in and out of a paper bag. Reason being, this helped to slow down and deepen your breathing, increasing oxygen to the lungs in order to send more oxygenated blood to the brain to help you think clearer. The slowing down of the breath also lowers blood pressure and stress levels. Clever huh? The body does its best to help you in times of need. And it can do so much more. So, if you are ever in a position where you want a boost of confidence and self-belief then try these methods using your physical being.

Use your breath
If you’ve got a big presentation or a difficult conversation coming up and want to feel powerfully calm, try this: breathe in for two counts and out for four counts. Conversely, if you want to feel pumped up and ready for action, try it the other way around: breathe in for four counts and out for two counts. The first calms and focuses you, the second wakes you up and energises you.

Stand or sit tall
If you want to make a physical impact either around a table in a big meeting or just when meeting someone for the first time, pull yourself up to your highest point possible with a long straight spine. Even if you are tiny, this will work. And if you are already tall, don’t slouch to come down to other people’s levels. Standing or sitting tall will not only make you look more confident but feel it too. One of the simplest standing postures in yoga is called Mountain Pose, because a mountain is tall and strong. Stand like a mountain!

Shoulders back
We live in the digital era, which means we are almost constantly hunched over a laptop or a smartphone. What this means is that we are curving inwards with our pectoral muscles getting tighter and shorter and our shoulder muscles getting weaker and weaker pulling everything forward and down. The more that happens, the harder it is to counter-balance. So, on a daily, hourly basis, raise your shoulders up, back and down. Keep them back and down. If this feels weird, you need to do it more! The benefit of this posture is that your ribs have more room to expand meaning you can take deeper breaths, enabling you to bring more oxygen into your system.

Chin up
My Dad always used to say this to me if I was feeling down. There is something about having your chin up that makes you look confident, nonchalant, undefeated. Having your chin up physically means that the throat is open and not constricted. And in yogic philosophy, the throat area relates to expression and speaking your truth. We all know that when we are deeply moved or upset, we can have a lump in our throat or find it difficult to speak. Lift your chin up to free that throat area, enabling you to speak more confidently.

Crown on
Lastly, hold your head high as if you were being pulled by a thread from the crown of your head. If you’ve watched Beyoncé’s new film Black Is King, you might remember a fantastic quote: “You can’t wear a crown if your head is down”. Literally, hold your head as if you are wearing a precious crown. You will look regal, empowered, confident and feel it too. Namaste (which literally means, I bow to you).

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