By Katherine Speller
© Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
Anyone who deals with anxiety on the reg can name a few of their go-to coping strategies for making the things we need to do — from baseline executive function activities to more daunting responsibilities — a bit more bearable without our brains running haywire. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is no different and recently shared that he deals with anxiety himself — and found a surprisingly easy hack for making it through public speaking engagements with it.
In a preview of the new BBC documentary he was a part of Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health, the Duke shared how his eyesight starting to get a bit poor actually helped him make it through those anxious moments.
“My eyesight started to tail off a little bit as I got older, and I didn’t use to wear contacts when I was working, so actually when I gave speeches I couldn’t see anyone’s face,” William shared in the doc.
“And it helps, because it’s just a blur of faces and because you can’t see anyone looking at you — I can see enough to read the paper and stuff like that — but I couldn’t actually see the whole room,” he adds. “And actually that really helps with my anxiety.”
Anxiety is itself a physical and mental response in your body— something that can lead your animal brain fight or flight instincts to kick in.
“When we experience anxiety, we are essentially experiencing a fight/flight response in the body,” Erica Curtis, a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of the upcoming The Innovative Parent: Raising Connected, Happy, Successful Kids Through Art, previously told SheKnows. “For example, muscles tense to act quickly or protect against injury, the heart pumps harder to oxygenate the muscles to mobilize. Even if there is no ‘real’ threat, when the brain thinks there is one, it mobilizes the body for self-protection. And because the survival part of the brain doesn’t differentiate between emotional or relational threat and physical threat, when we experience — or perceive — any threat, the part of the brain tasked with protecting you jumps into gear.”
For people with public speaking fears, the old adage “imagine them in their underwear” is often used to help make a crowd feel less intimidating. But for William, slipping out your contacts is an easy way to take the bite out of a crowd: make them all just a bunch of blurry faces.
We always appreciate a deceptively simple hack for making a situation a little less stressful. Way to go, your highness!
Whatever works, I guess.