Take a deep breath … or not?

Have you ever had anyone tell you to take a deep breath when you’ve been nervous, for example, before a speech? I know I have. But … is it good advice?

Breathing plays a very important role in learning to deal with public speaking nerves.

Many of you would be familiar with an increase in your breathing rate before an important public speaking task. If you breathe too fast and deep in these situations it can cause hyperventilation (overbreathing), which is an imbalance between carbon dioxide and oxygen in your body.

Overbreathing can lead to low levels of carbon dioxide in your blood. Some of the symptoms of this can include dizziness, light-headedness, cold hands and chest tightness.

If you are overbreathing, the main aim should be to increase the carbon dioxide levels in your blood. There are many ways to do this – some more effective than others. You may even have seen actors in movies breathing into a paper bag – the theory behind this is that you can breathe back in some of the carbon dioxide you exhale (I personally don’t recommend this method!).

The best way to increase the carbon dioxide level in your blood is to take in less oxygen.

So – back to the initial question – should you take a deep breath?

Taking a deep breath will actually increase the oxygen in your body – so it may actually work against your efforts to control your nerves!

If you’d like to learn more about how to use your breath to deal with your public speaking fears, why not contact us to see how we can help?

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