How to Use Body Language to Decrease Stress

By Katie Corbett


It’s ten minutes before a job interview. This is your first time meeting anyone from the company and you want to make a good first impression. You’ve done your research. You know some ideal answers to interview questions you might be asked and you’ve come up with thoughtful, intelligent questions of your own about the company and position.


But you’re still nervous. Your heart is pounding and your palms are slick with sweat. In spite of all your careful planning, your stomach is in knots. Is there anything you can do? Can you decrease your stress levels in time to ace the interview? Yes. Yes, you can. It only takes two minutes.


In her book, “Presence,” Amy Cuddy elaborates on a method of stress reduction called “Power Posing.” This entails holding your body in a certain position for two minutes, which will lower your cortisol and raise your testosterone. The change in chemicals decreases sensations of anxiety and stress and increases feelings of confidence and empowerment.


My favorite power pose involves standing with my feet shoulder-width apart and placing my hands on my hips. I stand tall like that for two minutes and let the body chemistry take over.


I have used this poise producing life-hack in many situations, one of which was my annual review with my boss and the CEO of the nonprofit for which I work. Even though I had a feeling everything would go well, I was still nervous. My breaths were shallow, my heart was pounding and I was afraid if I opened my mouth to speak, my voice would be shaky.


Shortly before it was time for my review, I stood in my office and held my power pose for two minutes. When my power pose time was over, I was breathing more deeply, my head felt clearer and my heart was no longer going a mile a minute. I was able to walk into my review with self-assurance and present my ideas, feedback and opinions with a strong voice and clear communication.


Anyone can do this. All it takes is finding a private, quiet place to go for two minutes before an important event. Amy suggests many other power poses in her book and explains the science behind the technique, so pick up “Presence” to learn more.


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