Techniques To Help You Learn How Not To Be Nervous
By: Danni Peck
Updated March 18, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley
Want to learn how not to be nervous? That is understandable. The symptoms of nervousness or anxiety are not fun - the sweaty palms, racing heart, upset stomach and more. These symptoms can vary from one person to the other, and they all have something in common. Nervousness is interfering with their lives. Some anxiety has been shown to actually be productive when it comes to helping performance, but if you are experiencing a higher than optimal level of nervousness, there are things you can to do calm yourself during those times.
You could be feeling nervous for any number of reasons. Maybe you have an important presentation, or a test is coming up, a playoff game that your team is counting on you to help win, or you are just nervous around new people and have a big party to go to. When you are nervous about something, you have anticipatory anxiety - or fear of something that has not happened yet. This creates a chain reaction in your body's anxiety response, creating the unpleasant physical sensations that you feel.
The reason for your nervousness does not matter, the important thing to know is that there are several techniques that you can learn to finally bust your nerves and take back control.
Here Are 5 Techniques to Help You Learn How Not to Be Nervous
When you feel nervous, a little exercise can help you regain a sense of calm in addition to improving your physical and mental health. Next time you are feeling nervous about something, you can try:
- - going for a walk
- - running or jogging
- - going to the gym
- - yoga
- - playing a sport
Any of these things can help you blow off steam and feel less nervous. If you tend to feel nervous often and not just in specific situations, perform some physical activities that you enjoy and work them into your regular schedule. The other calming thing about exercise is that during exercise, you breathe more deeply, filling your lungs with oxygen and steadying your breath. So, if you are unable to exercise, practicing deep breathing can also be effective.
- Take Care of Your Needs
At times people commonly feel more nervous when they have not attended to certain physical and emotional needs, like saying no to another obligation when you are already feeling pressed for time for example. Make sure you identify areas of your life that need some attention, whether it is focusing on eating a healthy diet or just making sure you are well-rested. There could be certain relationships in which it feels people take more than they give; limit those. Add in a good exercise routine or maybe spend time outdoors. Deal with any emotional issues and learn healthy ways to overcome them. The healthier and happier you feel, the easier it can be to relax.
- Talk to a Counselor
A counselor can help you pinpoint the source of your nervousness and guide you towards seeing things differently. He or she may suggest different ways to deal with your nervousness or help you to realize the thoughts you are having (many of which are likely to be unrealistic) that contribute to the anxiety-cycle.
Nervous about reaching out to a counselor? Luckily, we have online counseling services like BetterHelp, which is a great alternative for people who prefer the idea of chatting with a licensed professional through the internet instead of in person. Talking about your feelings with anyone trusted can help the way that you feel if you cannot talk to a therapist at the moment.
- Use Positive Visualization
Positive visualization can help you get over nervousness in several situations, like starting a new job or speaking in front of a large crowd.
The concept of positive visualization is to close your eyes and imagine that you are doing the thing that you are nervous about successfully. Create vivid images using your imagination while trying to incorporate your other senses at the same time. What would you see, smell, feel, and hear in this situation?
Before you knowingly go into a situation you expect to make you nervous, a helpful exercise can be to ask yourself, "What is the worst that can happen"? Then follow that thought through to its logical conclusion. You may realize that whatever happens, you will still be able to get through it. The anxious brain often focuses on the worst possible scenario; it is important to keep in mind that you will not know what is really going to happen until you do it. Recognize that the nerves that you feel have started from a thought you are creating in your head about what MIGHT or COULD happen, not what actually will. Thinking through how you will handle different possibilities in a certain situation can really help you deal with how you will overcome the situation for yourself. Ask yourself questions like: "How much will this matter to me tomorrow? What about one year from now?" This can almost help to put brief moments in time into perspective.
Also, it is not a bad idea to imagine the best-case scenario. At this point in time, you do not know what the outcome could be, and it could really turn out for the best. How important is what you have to or want to do to you? Is this a major goal? Do you want to be stopped from accomplishing something meaningful to you because of momentary discomfort? What are some things that could help ensure success?
What is great about this technique is that it helps you see what can go right instead of worrying about what could go wrong, making you less nervous as a result.
- Try Meditation, Mindfulness, and/or Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises and meditation are some other effective ways to deal with nervousness that can help you feel calmer and more grounded.
One such exercise is to find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes or keep them open with a soft focus. Pay attention to what you are feeling in your body and start tuning in to your breath, gently bringing your focus back if your mind wanders. It is natural for the mind to wander, so just notice your thoughts without judgment and bring your attention back to the sensation of air flowing in and out of your lungs through your nose.
Taking a few full, slow breaths in and out before doing something that makes you nervous can also help you stay calm.
- Develop Self-Confidence
A big hurdle to overcome, especially if you experience anxiety related to social events or performing in public can be a lack of self-confidence. You may feel inadequate to get along socially, deliver a speech, get through a job interview, or any other potentially nerve-racking experience. It is also common to have a fear that anxiety will cause you to act in a way that would be inappropriate in public, even when this is unrealistic. Naturally, if you felt well-equipped with preparations made to handle the situation along with some positive self-talk, it can help with reducing the nervousness you feel. You can learn new skills as a way of boosting your competency. Another way to become more self-confident is reminding yourself of your unique strengths and abilities instead of comparing yourself to others.
It is also important to realize that no one else can know what you are thinking and feeling from just looking at you, or that they notice everything about what you are doing. We sometimes call this the "fishbowl" phenomenon. You may be having thoughts like, "Everyone will know I am nervous" or "People will see that I am not prepared." Realistically, people are bad at guessing what is going on with another person and no one will pay as much attention to what you are doing as you are.
If you are nervous about having to make a speech, pitch an idea to your boss, or do some other skill-based activity, practice! Making sure you are well prepared is the best way to feel calm and confident going into it.