So, you have a big sales presentation coming up, and the pressure is making you buckle. Relax. Breathe in, breathe out… Stressful as it may seem, there are things you can do beforehand to help you walk into that meeting like a snarling bull – confident, calm, and cool.
Stress is a mental condition that can be conditioned right out of you. Your squeezy ball won’t cut it; neither will meditation. You need to nail this thing – you’re going to have to go big.
Beat the Hell Out of Stuff
If you don’t own your own boxing gear, consider investing in a heavy bag, wraps, and gloves – or a membership to a gym that has all that stuff. Fighting things that don’t hit back relieves stress perhaps better than any other activity. Until very recently in human evolution, smashing things with our fists was part of living another 24 hours. Every uppercut, hook, and wheel kick will trigger a primal, back-of-the-brain aggression that has long been subdued in your modern life. Your rage’s idleness converts into stress. Let out the beast. You’ll feel much better afterward.
Quality, yet affordable, boxing gear: Everlast Freestanding Advanced Reflex Bag ($49), Heavy-duty Pro Boxing Gloves/Punching Bag ($43.99), Pow! Pow! Dual Pad Kick Boxing Station with Speed Bag ($79.98)
Many credible psychologists believe that if aggressive fighting is one half of what dominated the primitive part of our brains, the other half is sex. Primal physical exertion in its purest form, sex improves confidence, triggers the release of dopamine and endorphins, and stimulates brain activity.
Don’t mistake this for making love – save that for after work. This should be an exercise in doing to your partner what you plan to do to that presentation. If you don’t have anyone with whom to have sex, use that as an incentive to nail the sales pitch – maybe if you succeed at work, someone at the bar later that night will smell the confidence on you and be drawn to closer.
Blast Hardcore Gangsta Rap
You don’t have to be a fan of the genre to benefit from the stress reduction associated with listening to the self-confident rantings of violent alpha males who don’t take anything from anybody. Heavily muscled, tattooed hoodlums screaming about surviving gunfights on the mean streets of the inner city – only to later dominate battles on the exercise yard at a state penitentiary – will make your silly little anxiety over your sales presentation seem like child’s play.
Visit Something Larger Than Yourself
There is nothing like a trip to the ocean – or a rock formation or a redwood forest or a desert or a waterfall – to remind you that, like everyone who has ever come before you or will ever come after you, you’re a flea on a dog’s back – and one day there will be no record that you ever existed. That day is coming sooner than you’d like to believe, and no accomplishments or failures, no matter how grandiose, can change it.
Stress melts away as you stand in front of a massive, ancient structure that witnessed the comings and goings of dinosaurs, mammoths, cave men, and finally the billions of people before you whose lives and struggles are now lost to the ages. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed by something magnificent, and the entire struggle of humanity – much less your sales presentation – suddenly won’t seem so overwhelming.
The best thing you can do to alleviate the anxiety associated with a big work project is relentlessly prepare for it. If you’re still anxious after that, the stress is a product of the irrational part of your brain being overprotective. The antidote to that is the primal part of your brain your ancestors used to kill competitors with their hands and procreate to ensure the survival of the species. Harness this corner of your mind, release adrenaline and rage, and the sales presentation will be a walk in the park.
Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about health, fitness, and relationships.