Feeling Anxious in a Meeting? Here's How to Cope
Now what

Feeling Anxious in a Meeting? Here's How to Cope

Welcome to a special bonus segment of our advice column, Now What? where our columnist Tori unpacks a different career dilemma from our community and brings on a few friendly faces from her network to contribute their wisdom too.

About Tori

Tori Lazar is a creative leadership coach and business consultant for purpose-driven entrepreneurs, executives, and brands. She recently founded the creative leadership coaching studio, How to Fck Up Well. She also serves as an advisor to Female Startup Club and Black Girl Magik. Through her work, Tori aims to destigmatize failure and redefine it as an unconventional springboard for growth.

Real talk. No matter how much you prepare or how confident you feel, there will always be varying levels of stress and anxiety that need to be managed in real time when giving a big presentation or having a difficult conversation. And that’s OK. That’s an opportunity for growth. However, it’s helpful to develop coping mechanisms to work through those feelings and not let them get the best of you.

Enter Raquel Carrasquillo, my confidence coach and therapist who helped me flourish during and after the distressing job I mentioned earlier. Here are three of her recommended tools to manage stress and anxious feelings. I like to do a mix of belly breathing and engaging my senses. But try what feels best for you and your environment!

  • Diaphragmatic breathing (or belly breathing) is an exercise that regulates the nervous system and activates the relaxation response. Try lying down or sitting in a comfortable chair. Put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your stomach. When you inhale, the stomach should expand. When you exhale, the stomach should contract. Inhale on a count of 4, holding your breath for 2 seconds, and exhale on a count of 6. The idea is to take deep breaths from our belly versus shallow breaths from our chest. You can practice this for several minutes (3-5 minutes) anywhere, making it a great in-office or work-from-home tool. 
  • Use journaling as an outlet. I often recommend clients use a timer. 5-10 minutes can do wonders. There’s no right or wrong way to journal. Simply allow whatever comes up to flow onto the page. It can be a helpful way to release uncomfortable or intense feelings.
  • Ground yourself in the present moment by engaging your senses. You can use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 mindfulness technique anywhere, but I love to practice it on a walk. Start by taking a deep breath in and out. Look at your surroundings and find:

    5 things you can see
    4 things you can touch
    3 things you can hear
    2 things you can smell
    1 thing you can taste

    When we engage our senses, we often feel more grounded and can direct our attention to the present moment around us and away from distressing feelings or thoughts.

  • Bonus tool and shameless plug because I am Raquel’s self-proclaimed biggest fan (my friends can attest to this!). Attend one of her upcoming Nervous System Reset workshops.

“The Favoritism Is Real, and I Don’t Feel Like I’m Being Treated Equally by My Boss. Now What?”
"I'm Worried That AI Is Coming for My Job. Now What?"
"I Need a Career Change but Have No Idea What to Do Next. Now What?"