How To Stop Shaking When You Feel Nervous

Updated December 9, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Disclaimer: This article focuses solely on shaking due to nervousness, fear, or anxiety. Several medical conditions may cause shaking, but this article does not cover them. If you are unsure what is causing your shaking or have further inquiries, please seek medical attention. The information found in the article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. 

Nervousness, anxiety, and fear can all cause physical symptoms on top of emotional ones.  One of these symptoms is tremors or shakiness. If you start shaking when afraid or anxious, it may feel alarming, scary, or out of control. However, there are several strategies you can implement to potentially control your shaking. 

Why Am I Shaking When Nervous? 

Tremors or shaking can be symptoms caused by your nervous system. When you start feeling nervous, your body often releases stress hormones due to your fight-or-flight response. 

The fight or flight response activates your nervous system due to a threat or perceived threat. It may occur due to anxiety, stress, a real threat, trauma, or mental health conditions. 

During this response, you might fight by partaking in conflict or physically fighting to save your life, or you might partake in "flight" by running away or leaving a situation. If you do not use the energy to run or fight, you might be experiencing a freeze response, which could cause you to shake.

The shaking response could also be due to pent-up energy in your nervous system or adrenaline impacting your muscles and causing involuntary twitching or tremors.  

How To Control Body Tremors 

Often, when a person experiences nervousness-related shaking, they may feel uncomfortable and want it to stop. If you experience anxiety or panic attacks, you might feel that you're not in control of your body when this happens. 

Reducing stress may alleviate the shaking or trembling from panic attacks and anxious thoughts. However, there may be no instant cure for uncontrollable shaking. 

Mindfulness And Meditation 

Mindfulness is a technique where you ground yourself using a variety of exercises. Nervousness, anxiety, or panic may make you feel you've lost control of your body. Mindfulness can allow you to focus on your physical self and what you can control. Try the following practice:

  1. Start by noticing your breath. What does it feel like in your stomach? Your chest? 

  2. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

  3. Notice the sensation of where you are sitting, standing, or lying down. Are you on a soft chair? Is there any pain in your body? 

  4. Pinpoint the colors around you and label them in your mind. 

  5. If any unrelated thoughts come through, thank them and send them on their way. If they come back, repeat this step as long as it takes.

  6. Notice your tremors. What do they feel like? Where are they originating from in your body? 

  7. Focus on relaxing each part of your body one at a time, starting with your toes and moving up. 

  8. As you move up, keep your breathing deep and long. 

  9. When you get to your head, check in with your body again. If you're still shaking, start the exercise over. 

When you direct your attention toward your breathing, you may start feeling your body calm down. Many mindfulness and relaxation techniques start with deep breaths. Peer-reviewed studies show the positive impact of mindfulness on nervousness and anxiety, so it may be worth a try.

Anxiety: body shaking uncontrollably

Are You Experiencing Nervousness or Anxiety?

How To Stop Shaking Quickly 

You may find that shaking occurs quickly when you're experiencing daily life. For example, if you get nervous speaking in front of others, giving a presentation could cause shaking. This type of temporary shaking may be alleviated with relaxation techniques.

Practice Deep Breathing

Slow, calm breaths can help your body return to a calmer state. When you are worried and start shaking, your body may release adrenaline. This chemical release is a defensive biological response that can feel overwhelming. 

Slowing your breathing may help stop a flood of stress hormones and reduce shaking. After you breathe slowly through your nose, hold the breath for a few seconds before releasing it. After releasing, hold it for a few more. 

Try One Minute Of Meditation

You may think that meditation requires too much time. However, any length of meditation might help you relax and de-stress. Performing a one-minute meditation focusing on your breathing or other aspects of your environment or body can help you turn your attention away from the cause of your nervousness, making the shakes disappear. 

There are often resources online for short meditations and apps you can download to your phone. Though a short meditation may not feel as though it will help at the moment, taking a second to breathe and reconnect with your body can be incredibly beneficial. Studies also show that as much as a ten-minute meditation each day can reduce symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety. 

Go For A Walk

Releasing the adrenaline your body has built up may help reduce your nervous symptoms. Exercise is one way to do this, and walking is often a non-intense activity. Walking outside offers several benefits. By surrounding yourself with fresh air and nature, you may find yourself able to feel more at peace with yourself and the world around you.

If you have a disability that limits your physical abilities, consider sitting or lying outside or spending time near a window with sunlight. You might also purchase a sunlight-mimicking lamp to feel the impact of the sun's glow. 

For those with body movement, yoga may be a gentle and effective way to move your body and reduce anxiety. If you have a physical therapist, ask them how you can participate in an exercise that is safe for you. 

body shaking uncontrollably

Exercise

Physical activity can be a valuable way to decrease symptoms of nervousness. Exercise releases endorphins, and you can use physical activity as an outlet for any pent-up energy. 

If there's a certain kind of exercise that you genuinely enjoy doing, consider spending a few minutes doing it. Maybe you want to go for a hike or go roller-skating. A short jog around a track may also be beneficial for combatting anxiety. 

Though it can feel challenging to get exercise when you're feeling nervous, a small amount may be better than none. Find an exercise that works for your body and mind. 

Watch Your Caffeine Intake

Too much caffeine can impact your health. Caffeine may also cause nervousness and muscle tremors. Try to keep an eye on your caffeine intake when feeling nervous.

What To Do About Chronic Shaking

If you find yourself shaking often or every day, this may be a sign of an anxiety disorder or another mental health condition. In this case, you might want to try a stress-reduction habit to incorporate into your routine, such as the following. 

Yoga

Yoga often combines the benefits of meditation and exercise. Because many of the moves also stretch your muscles, yoga may relieve tension and excess adrenaline. Practicing yoga regularly could help you manage your nerves. 

Though some people are nervous about practicing any new exercise, yoga focuses on adapting moves to work for you. There may also be online yoga classes available to you for free.

Massage

Massage can be another way of reducing stress hormones. You don't necessarily need to get a professional massage. You might ask a friend or partner for a massage as well. However, a non-professional massage may have the risk of injury if someone doesn't know what they're doing. 

A simple option may include a shoulder or foot rub at the end of a tough day. You can also try to massage yourself using a massage stick or massager device and use it to reconnect to your body, stretch, or relax.

Sleep

Sleep has multiple benefits for all aspects of our health and public wellness. Problems with shaking can get worse if you're not getting enough sleep. You may find that logging seven or eight hours each night can reduce your issues with both anxiety and shaking.

If you have a hard time falling asleep or getting enough sleep every night, there are different techniques that may improve your sleep. By reducing time on your phone and social media before bed, writing out your thoughts in a notebook, or being patient, you may find it easier to fall asleep.

Rule Out Anything Medical

While shaking can be a symptom of anxiety, excessive and uncontrollable shaking may be due to a medical condition. First, see your primary care physician to rule out anything medical. Talk openly with your physician and follow the treatment plan you've developed together.

Are You Experiencing Nervousness or Anxiety?

Seek Help

Many counselors have experience treating people who experience nervousness or anxiety. Whether you have panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, or another condition that contributes to your nervousness, a licensed therapist may be supportive.  

Research shows that behavioral treatment, like psychotherapy, is effective for most people with an anxiety disorder. For instance, a therapist could help you learn coping skills and calming techniques to reduce shaking caused by nervousness or anxiety. 

If you feel nervous about attending therapy in a new place with a strange person, you may feel most comfortable attending therapy at home through an online platform like BetterHelp. Online therapy has been found to be as effective as in-person therapy, and it's often more affordable.  

Takeaway

Shaking can result from nervousness, but other conditions may also cause it. If you want to reduce nervous shaking, consider research-based techniques that have proven effective, including psychotherapy. If you want to start with a professional, consider reaching out to a counselor.

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