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We know interviews by their very nature are stressful. There are many things you can do to reduce the stress a job interview produces. You can prepare the possible questions, dress your best, research the company, and use many other interview preparation strategies. However, there is one simple secret to acing a job interview: breathe. Yes, breathe. Not the breathing you are doing right now but breathe from your diaphragm. There is a remarkable relationship between how you breathe and the stress you feel. Put breathing from the diaphragm into your interview preparation.

The Problem

When you take fast, shallow breaths from your chest, you reduce the oxygen levels in your blood. This can cause some unpleasant symptoms such as:
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle tension
  • Perspiring profusely
  • Depression/anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heart rate
If these symptoms look familiar, they are. These also happen to be the same things you feel when you are stressed, like at an interview. However, these signs can be reduced significantly by breathing from your belly or diaphragm.

The Benefits

When you breathe from your diaphragm, you use your entire lung. (The diaphragm is below your lungs.) The increased lung function makes the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange more efficient which provides your blood with more oxygen. The results of more oxygen in your blood will:
  • Relax tense muscles
  • Reduce stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help you think more clearly
  • Lower your heart rate

You Did It Before

You used to breathe deep down in your abdomen. Everyone did. As a newborn, you breathed from the belly naturally. You may even breathe like that during your sleep. Somehow, you began breathing from your chest. Perhaps it was because you were told to stand up straight with your chest out and stomach in. This posture constricted your abdominal muscles then reduced the depth of your breathing. Tight clothing does the same thing as does slouching when you sit. But you can relearn to breathe from your diaphragm. In only a few minutes a day, you can relearn and practice breathing to increase your physical and mental well-being. It may feel strange at first, but with continued practice, you can change your breathing at will. You will be able to stop stress in its tracks whenever there is a need.

Re-Learn How To Breathe

To begin, first find a place where you won’t be interrupted. You can either sit down with your feet on the ground or lay down on the floor.
  1. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your stomach.
  2. Close your eyes as you breathe slowly through your nose. Inhale the air all the way past your lungs and down into your abdomen. You should feel the hand on your stomach rise, while the hand on your chest stays where it is.
  3. Concentrate where you want the air to go.
  4. Breathe out slowly through your nose.
  5. Keep breathing this way for a few minutes.
  6. Increase the amount of time each day.
  7. Don’t rush and take slow, even breaths.
  8. Practice, practice, practice.
Practice while waiting for a traffic light. Practice as you are falling asleep. Practice while reading. Practice while watching a movie or TV. Practice while preparing for an interview. Practice anywhere and anytime you want. Just practice. Practice so you are able to change your breathing quickly and easily. It reduces your stress and increases your interview performance and your chances at a job offer. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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