Don’t underestimate the power of breath for helping you manage your emotions, nerves and stress levels under pressure.

In my training, I teach two breathing techniques that I practice myself.

The first is tactical breathing. It’s where you take a big deep breath in through your nose and then release it from your mouth in a steady rush, blowing out your cheeks (don’t do this in someone’s face!).

It’s a great strategy when you need to manage yourself in the moment, particularly when you’re frustrated (I do it a lot around my kids to reduce how much I yell!).

The second is box breathing. Box breathing sees you breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, breathe out gently and steadily through your mouth for a count of four, and then hold your breath again for a count of four, before starting the process again.

It’s a great way of calming yourself if you’re feeling anxious, nervous, or stressed.

The key with both breathing techniques is to practice them regularly, particularly when you’re not under pressure or in a state of heightened emotions.

If you say, “yeah, I should remember to breathe when I get worked up” the reality is, in the moment you won’t think to do it.

So, practice when you’re not stressed, such as any time you get in the car. You want to get into the habit of using them. Try three box breaths in a row and feel the difference.

The final tip is to use a physical trigger to ground yourself in the moment and remind yourself to breathe. My favourite is pinching the pressure point between my thumb and forefinger.

Try it. The more you do it, the more likely you are to use it when you need it most.


Leah Mether helps people get out of their own way with the development of soft skills (which are really hard). She is a speaker, trainer, facilitator and mentor.