Controlling Nerves with Anchoring
Controlling nerves is a skill; imagine this you’ve been asked to talk at a key note conference. You know it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. To do it well, will get you noticed and your career could really take off. Yet, inside you feel almost sick. Your nerves are on edge, and you are having sleepless nights! Controlling nerves with anchoring is an effective technique which will help you present with confidence.
If speaking in public is one of your major fears, you are not alone! For many people, the very thought of speaking to an audience fills them with terror, and many will simply not do it and miss out on some great opportunities as a consequence.
Standing up there, viewing a sea of faces will fill many of us with anxiety resulting in breathlessness, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and light headedness.
Yet, with some top tips and practice you can use your adrenaline to your advantage. This is called “Anchoring”.
WHAT IS ANCHORING?
Anchoring is a visualisation technique derived from the martial art of Aikido – the art of “spiritual harmony.” Aikido uses energy in a positive way to very much focus on the present, which in turn takes the power away from outside concerns and negative thoughts, and helps you to stay grounded and calm.
Aikido teaches you to your brain to control your body’s reactions using the concept of “ki.” That is, all physical and mental power comes from the flow of energy around your body. By becoming stressed or anxious you lose valuable energy however, by “anchoring” your energy you can manage self and emotion in a positive way and energise your performance levels.
Sounds nuts! But it does work. Think of a time when you felt really anxious. Were you presenting to your Board? Were you speaking a Parents Evening? Were you addressing an audience on a key community issue? How did you feel? Sick? Tense? Rapid heartbeat? Profuse sweating? These are all very common symptoms when we allow our nervous energy to get the better of us.
Now, picture this. You use your “Anchor” to control the energy flowing through your body. You feel calm, composed and in control. You still feel slightly on edge, but excited rather than fearful.
WHY IS ANCHORING USEFUL?
Anchoring helps us to manage our focus and stress before we, for example, make a key note speech, attend an interview, negotiate a big contract..in any situation which requires a clear head. See our blog:
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Anchoring can also be useful in everyday conversations, for example, talking to your son’s teacher about his academic attainment and the support offered by the school. It helps you to speak with compassion and conviction, and most importantly articulate your thoughts clearly and concisely.
HOW TO ANCHOR YOURSELF
Follow these three simple steps:
STEP 1: FOCUS ON YOUR BREATHING
Focus on breathing deeply, using your diaphragm to draw air all the way down into your lungs.
Not accustomed to breathing deeply? Try this:
Find a quiet space, ensure no interruptions and lie on the floor. Put one hand on your stomach, and inhale deeply through your nose. As you inhale, use the air to place pressure against the hand on your stomach. Make sure your chest and shoulders do not move. Then breathe out through your mouth slowly.
Practice your breathing technique whenever you can.
Using your mind slowly release all of the tension in your body. As you continue to breathe deeply, work slowly from your toes to your head, focusing on each muscle set and really work through all of the tension.
See our blogs:
For exercises on how to breathe deeply, visit
Deep breathing exercises
STEP 2: FIND YOUR ANCHOR
Find your physical centre of gravity, which is your “anchor”. It’s usually about two inches below your navel. Practice becoming grounded by focusing your mind on this part of your body.
Next time you feel anxious, picture your “anchor” and focus on your breathing to regain balance and control. Breathe deeply for a few minutes and you’re your body and mind taking on a more calm and composed state.
STEP 3: REDIRECT YOUR ENERGY
Use your energy to move your goal forward. Picture all of your energy coursing through your veins; imagine what success feels like, how your body and mind will feel when you have accomplished your goals. Place all negative thoughts in the dustbin, and place the lid firmly on top.
Next time you inhale deeply, focus on your achievement and place a further deposit in the “feel good bank”. Repeat to yourself what the success feels like, and how great your mind and body feels.
For more top tips on mindfulness, visit:
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Anchoring takes practice! Start gradually and be realistic that you will not master it overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The sooner you start though the better you will become and the next time you are asked to give a presentation, record how you feel. Each time, note again how you feel and reflect on how your thoughts, energy etc., changes for the better.
This is called developing your bank of positive experiences. Even when you experience a set-back, as tempting as it might be to not record how you felt, make the effort to do so. It will serve as a useful reminder that none of us are infallible, yet with focus we can restore our balance and overcome those debilitating beliefs.
See our blog:
I AM AN IMPOSTER
Talk to others about how they overcome their nerves, and remind yourself you are not alone. Ask people you admire when they speak in public for some top tips and add your tool box of strategies to use your adrenaline to your advantage.