America's national anxiety epidemic—where people are constantly in "survival mode"—ultimately hurts productivity and innovation. "In the workplace, we tend to be so mentally focused, and overwhelmed, that we need to learn how to tap into our physical stamina," says business psychologist Sharon Melnick.
In her book Success Under Stress, Melnick shares how we can use Eastern medicine—a variety of movement, stretching postures, breathing and meditation—to reground ourselves throughout the day. She explains how "shortcut" Naam Yoga techniques can help move you into a confident, relaxed state, no matter what's going on around you.
Try these four tricks to feel more relaxed, less scared and confident enough to finally solve that pressing problem.
1. Calm Yourself. If you need to control a physical reaction and reduce anxiety—for example, if you start to get nervous during a presentation—you can "reset" yourself by applying pressure to a point between your second and third knuckles (near where your finger and hand meets). Melnick tells us that if you move your thumb down your middle finger toward your palm, you will be able to feel a soft, slightly indented spot, which is on the inside of your finger if your palm is facing up, and if you apply medium pressure here, "it activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart, so any of that fluttery feeling you feel when you're nervous will end up going away."
2. Be More Confident. Even confident people need a boost every now and again. To gain confidence, take either hand to touch your thumb to the side of your index finger between the first (closest to your fingernail) and second knuckles (in the middle of your finger) and apply mild to moderate pressure. When you apply pressure to this point, you are activating a nerve that relates to having charisma and feeling powerful, meaning you are sending a signal that can "reduce internal emotional commotion and induce a state that is subtly more confident."
3. Abolish Fear. Fear can paralyze us in both business and life. To cope with fear, try this: First, place both hands in a position where the tips of the thumb and index finger are together (the way you'd hold your fingers in a yoga lotus pose). Then, each time you breathe out through your mouth, forcefully push your hands away from you, and when you inhale through your nose, bring your hands in a straight line toward your chest.
4. Solve a Problem. If there's a particularly sticky problem you're trying to find a solution for, try this "problem solving position." With your right hand, touch your thumb with your index and middle fingers and place the "tip" of that triangle about one inch above the point that is directly between your eyes on your forehead. Simultaneously, have the fingertips of your left hand in that same position, but place the "tip" of that triangle about an inch above your belly button.
"In this position, you're symbolically connecting the centers that are involved with intuition, right hand, and 'gut instincts,' left hand," Melnick says. "Now your head and your gut can 'communicate' with each other."
Photos from top: Thinkstock, Courtesy of Sharon Melnick