Sometimes your body can’t tell the difference between a deadline and a threat to your life — here’s how to deal with it

‘The body doesn’t know the difference between a lion and a deadline.’ Picture: BraunS, iStock.

Uncertainty, important decisions, demanding schedules and worrying about the future are some of the reasons executives live with daily stress and anxiety.

According to Beyond Blue more than two million Australians live with anxiety, yet few realise the long term damaging effect it can have on mental health, career progression and decision making.

Global life coach and success mentor Michelle Richmond, who specialises in helping people who have hit a wall in their lives or career to find a new creative edge, says it’s 100 per cent possible to ease anxiety quickly if you have the techniques to do so.

“If the mind can get you into that state, the mind can get you out of that state,” Richmond says.

“Anxiety and the present mind are mutually exclusive. If you think about it, anxiety is only possible when you’re not present, when your mind is absent”.

Richmond, who works with people from corporate executives to race car drivers, explains how the ability to harness breathing and be present is the first and most powerful step in overcoming issues holding you back in your life or career.

“These people are often the best at what they do but are struggling. Because they are so busy, they don’t even realise that they’re not breathing properly,” she says.

The power of breathing – recognising the lion from the deadline

Breathing is one of the key elements of executive presence and the first lesson of Richmond’s 12-month course.

“If they checked in, most people would find they’re only breathing to the top of their chest, when we breathe we should breathe down into the abdomen.

“Not breathing properly is one of the contributors to feeling depleted at the end of the day. Overtime being on the treadmill and the ‘I’m so busy’ syndrome sees you not breathing properly, and running on adrenaline.

“The next phase when the adrenals are continuously exhausted is when people start to feel depressed.”

This becomes a huge issue for corporate executives that lead busy, demanding lives, because the fatigue starts to impact other areas of their life, including digestion.

“What most people don’t realise is that they’re in a constant state of fight and flight,” Richmond says.

“When we’re in fight and flight, the blood rushes to the primal brain and to the outer extremities of the body to give you the strength and speed to run from a lion.

“[But] the body doesn’t know the difference between a lion and a deadline.

“In that moment, the digestion shuts down, because it doesn’t matter about digesting food if you’re about to eaten by a lion.”

Breathing properly gives you the opportunity to become present and to break the ‘flight and fight pattern’, allowing the body to take in more oxygen and improve your digestion, strengthen your immune system and the quality of your blood, releasing tension and emotion, relaxing your mind, increasing your focus, clarity and creativity, Richmond explains.

It’s a simple and effective technique to use before a meeting or in times of high tension or stress.

Business Insider is currently running a competition for one lucky reader to win an Immersion Safari with Michelle Richmond in 2018. Click here for the details on how to enter.

12 months to greatness

The first thing Richmond gives her clients is a simple breathing exercise — to be completed three times a day to super boost your day, maximize digestion, release tension and improve the quality of your sleep.

Often used by Navy Seals, the technique can be done anywhere, anytime, to re-center, calm and focus the mind.

“Breathing is a simple way of checking in, becoming present in the moment,” Richmond says.

“When you’re present in the moment, your thinking is clearer. It’s easier to make effective present time decisions. You’re maximising your body’s health.”

From there, Richmond starts to work with clients on their emotions, their physical health and fitness, and their life goals, which are all interlinked.

“The way that we work as a human being is that the mind is stored in a body, and emotion is stored in the body. The brain and mind effects the nervous system, and the nervous system controls the way our body functions.

“When you work with your mind and in parallel work with the emotions and the physical body, you’re releasing mental and emotional stress from the physical body, from the organs, from the cells simultaneously as releasing physical stress.”

Richmond’s programs run over 12 months, to ensure people have the time they need to heal and overcome the issues holding them back in their life or career before making significant changes.

But, Richmond says, you need to start with the small changes — like breathing properly — in order to see and maintain results over the long term.

“All the training and teaching I do is on giving principles and techniques that people can do in the fullness of everyday life without adding on another two hours onto your already busy day.”

Click here for the chance to win an Immersion Safari in Africa with Michelle Richmond in 2018.