Breathing, Moving, and Power Posing
How to Use Your Body to Think Effectively in Your Job Search
Most of us live in our heads all the time, caught up in our thoughts, worries, and questions. We forget that we have a body, or think of our body as a vehicle to carry our brains around. As a coach, I’m always reminding clients that our body is a powerful tool. We can use our body to think and feel differently, to feel calmer and more in control of our lives, even when so much is out of our control.
People in career transition can and should use all of the resources and help available. Please remember that your body is another resource to help you feel more empowered and think more productively during your days of job seeking, applying, and interviewing. Here are three ways you can use your body to feel calmer, more confident, and creative:
1. Reduce your stress by taking deep belly breaths. Job seeking can be stressful, and when we are in a stress reaction, a cascade of biochemicals circulate around our body and brains. Parts of our brain that do higher-level thinking are very sensitive to stress, and when these parts of our brain impacted by stress chemicals, our thinking is impaired. To return to productive and positive thinking, the most effective thing we can do is take deep belly breaths. To breathe deeply, put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Then take a few deep breaths moving only your stomach. When you inhale, let your stomach out and expand. When you exhale, pull your stomach all the way back in to release all of the air out of your lungs. Deep belly breathing activates your vagus nerve and parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system, which can help you quickly feel calmer and reset/reboot your thoughts.
2. When you feel stuck, get up and move. When we are worried, we often stop moving; our body and breathing constricts. We get caught up in our worries, and they can take hold of our body and overwhelm us. This keeps us stuck and in the land of worry. Here’s what I believe: job seeking from the land of worry does not serve anyone! Feeling stuck and worried can be a clue that it’s time to move. You can re-harness your creativity and shift your mindset by moving your body. When you feel stuck, stand up, walk around your room, run in place, stretch, or do a yoga pose. Even better, leave the room for a few minutes, get outside, and take a walk. Moving your body will help your thoughts move and flow – to find another direction, think of another person to network with, or see another possibility.
3. Find and practice your confident body pose before and during interviews. If you’ve never seen Amy Cuddy’s TED talk about Power Posing, watch it and practice it now. Holding our body in a confident pose makes us think and feel differently. It helps us feel confident and clearer about our abilities and what we have to offer. Before every networking call and interview, take a few moments to stand in the body pose that makes you feel confident, capable, and enthusiastic. Then, during interviews, be aware of and intentional around how you are holding your body. If you’re doing a video interview, find the seated body position that makes you feel confident and in control. How do you need to sit on your chair? If you’re on a phone call, stand up and stand tall when possible. Confident body language creates a mindset of confidence.
Mindset is a big part of job seeking and can make the difference between an effective job search and an overwhelming job search. Using our body and breathing can help us get into a positive, calm, confident, motivated mindset. To think more effectively, we can breathe deeply to activate our parasympathetic nervous system. To get unstuck, we can get up and move our body and change our environment. And to convey confidence and believe in ourselves, we can sit and stand in our confident body pose.
Body and breathing strategies are free and always available – it’s up to you to remember and choose to use them, so you can manage your job seeking with as much calm and confidence as possible.
Deb Elbaum is a career and leadership coach, whose specialty is helping mid-career professionals and leaders get clear about their next steps, build their confidence and communication strategies, and create a step-wise plan to make their goals happen. Her podcast In the Right Direction shares her most common coaching tips and tools. Deb can be reached at email@example.com and or through her website.