By Emily Fletcher
When studying the brain and neurogenesis, scientists are discovering that there is no one magic bullet for improving your mental performance and physical health. Changing your diet is not going to have the same impact if you aren’t also meditating and exercising. Meditation alone is not as effective if you aren’t eating enough good fat. Point of the story: Brain health is best attained by approaching it from all angles.
I think this is particularly relevant when it comes to supercharging your performance in stressful situations. There are a lot of wellness practices that can help, and if I am honest, I think meditation is generally the best. But when you need an extra boost in a high-stakes situation, the strongest strategy is what I call the “Power Trio:” breathwork, power poses, and visualization. Each of the practices in the Power Trio is beneficial on its own, but when you use all three together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Let’s take a look at each of these techniques separately and then examine how they come together to create a more fulsome wellness practice to help you excel in any situation, from first dates to contract negotiations.
You have to see what you want to create mentally before it will show up in your life. This is why everyone from Olympic athletes to hedge fund managers uses visualization before big events to improve their outcomes. In visualization, we gently guide our thoughts to visualize the best-case scenario or use our imagination to have a full five-sense experience of how our next high-demand situation would ideally play out. Visualization is, therefore, a valuable tool to prepare our physical, mental, and emotional states for high performance. Try my “Come to Your Senses” guided visualization.
Stress and fear affect the diaphragm first, so anytime you’re in a high-demand situation, breathwork is key. Different breathing techniques have different effects on the body; some are energizing, some are relaxing, but what they all have in common is that they bring you into your body and the present moment. They also help to oxygenate your brain, blood, and organs in a way that most exercise does not.
Power posing, or standing in expansive, open, powerful stances (such as with your fists on your hips and your shoulders back—picture Wonder Woman!) can physiologically change things in your body. When we get afraid, we shrink, we hide, we protect ourselves, and these physical actions can actually trigger the production of fear chemicals in our bodies. Similarly, when we start to open up, the brain senses that we are relaxed, safe, and confident, and it will start to produce bliss chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. So, simply by changing our physical stance we can send a different message to our brain, which in turn helps us to feel more confident and project confidence.
The combination of breathwork, visualization, and power poses can positively affect every area of your health and performance, especially in stressful situations. Using these techniques in tandem will oxygenate your brain, ground you in your physical body, decrease nervousness, and increase confidence. So you can use the Power Trio before your next big life event: public speaking, business negotiations, even first dates. Simply knowing that you have these three tools in your back pocket will help you perform at the top of your game.
For more like this, join our Self Care Center — our free library of all our best guided exercises, Global Meditations and bodywork and movement resources. This article originally appeared on mindbodygreen.