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Last weekend I went to a mingle here in NYC.
Even if it gets my adrenaline pumping, I still go.
I’ve met some amazing people that I’m forever grateful to have in my life today thanks to mingles.
Later the same day, I met up with some friends of friends that I didn’t have too much in common with.
Soon I noticed that I had zoned out. Instead of being above my “nice to socialize” level I was now below it.
Here’s what my stress curve looked like that day:
You want your body’s stress levels to be in the “Nice to socialize-zone”. If you’re more stressed than that, you get nervous. Too relaxed, and you get bored.
In other words, we can feel too stressed to enjoy socializing and then, an hour later, we can feel too bored to enjoy socializing.
Don’t you think that’s fascinating?
I think that’s fascinating. Maybe because every week I get emails that either say a) socializing makes me nervous or b) socializing makes me bored or c) first I’m nervous and then I get bored.
When our stress level is too high or too low, there are two tricks to get into the zone where socializing is fun.
What I do to take myself down a notch
Maybe you’ve heard that deep breathing will make you calmer.
So a year ago, I went through a massive 16-week course in Sweden on stress management. I learned that I and most others had always been doing deep breathing wrong. Here’s the kicker:
You need to breathe out SLOWER than you breathe in.
- Breathe in deep down into your belly (Like, really deep!)
- Then, you hold your breath for a few seconds, as long as it’s comfortable.
- And then, you breathe out SLOWLY.
- Hold for a few seconds and repeat.
If you do this for 15 minutes on a bed, you’ll notice how you get so calm you’ll almost fall asleep.
(I actually use this to fall asleep.)
But I also do it whenever I’m nervous or tense, like on my way to that mingle last weekend. On the subway, I did deep breathing, and on my way there, I had taken myself down a notch.
Some people use alcohol to calm down. But while alcohol is bad for you, deep breathing is good for you. So breathe rather than drink.
How I level up a notch
There are loads of ways to get more high energy; listen to aggressive music, jump around, fistfight a tiger.
All that advice sucks because it won’t make you more interested in the conversation.
Here’s a smarter way: Coffee.
When I was with my friends after the mingle and zoned out, I made a coffee.
It takes a few minutes for the caffeine to start kicking in and it peaks after 40 minutes.
You see, jumping around might produce adrenaline. But what you want is dopamine.
Because while adrenaline makes you ready to fight, dopamine makes you FOCUSED. And caffeine boosts dopamine.
So the next time you’re stressed out, breath deeply and breathe out SLOWLY. And if you have the opposite problem of getting bored and zoning out, then grab yourself a coffee.
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