Learning to control your nerves and anxiety is important to face exams, stressful work, family obligations, exposures, interviews, sports games and any other situation that generates nervousness.
Feeling nervous about an event is a normal and even adaptive body response that alerts us to the stimuli around us when we perceive danger.
For example, being nervous a few days before taking an important exam helps us to focus on studying, as we feel bad about ourselves if we are doing other tasks.
However, if this nervousness limits you in some aspects of your life. For example, if you are nervous at a job interview, you can’t expose your strengths correctly, the interviewer might take a bad photo of you, and in the end, you might not get the job.
In addition, the physiological symptoms we show, such as trembling or hesitation, further heighten the psychological discomfort we feel, and nervousness also increases. All these behavioral and physiological manifestations prevent the correct performance of the task we intend to perform.
Therefore, having medicine to calm and calm the nerves is important to achieve some personal goals and avoid feeling too much discomfort. Avoiding too much anxiety and controlling it will help you to redirect your energies and even benefit from some degree of activation.
Tips to Control Nerves and Anxiety
1. Learn to perform relaxation techniques through breathing
Breathing is a process that we carry out almost unconsciously throughout our lives. Depending on our emotional state, physical, etc., it becomes faster or slower, depending on the amount of oxygen our body needs.
When you get nervous, your body interprets that you are in a real danger situation, so be prepared for fight or flight.
When your breathing speeds up, you also have a faster heart rate, greater muscle tension, and less ability to reason and verbalize your ideas.
This breathing process, while not normally dependent on our will, is manageable with simple training.
First of all, it is important that you start practicing at home, in a situation where you are not nervous, so that you can perform the breath control exercise in the best possible way – then, in situations of real nervousness, generalize this type of breathing .
Take a few minutes to focus on the way you breathe. Placing your hands on your abdomen will help you see how often you breathe. Then, start breathing in deeply and slowly through your nose. Strive to hold air for about 3-4 seconds.
Breathe air through your mouth very slowly. A trick to figuring out how slowly you should exhale is to imagine that you have a candle burning in front of your mouth and you don’t want it to go out.
Repeat this exercise for about 10 to 15 minutes so that you can notice the changes taking place in your body – over time you will find yourself feeling calmer, relaxed and worrying less.
If you do this activity frequently, your body can automate this type of deep breathing, which will help reduce muscle tension, heart rate, and nervousness.
When you practice this technique enough, you can practice it in situations where you are nervous, which will help you to be much more relaxed and calm.
2. Don’t run away from the situation that makes you nervous
When a situation produces extreme nervousness, it is normal for you to feel like running away for fear of failure, criticism and ridicule.
However, fears are only overcome when you face them, because if you avoid them or run away from them, you will only get them to have more power over you.
So if you’re afraid of public speaking, you’ll have to accept the fact that, on the first few occasions, your body will respond with a certain level of nervousness, but, little by little, when your body gets used to the situation, you’ll be more Calm and calm.
In addition, you will find that your confidence and self-confidence increase as you expose yourself to situations that make you nervous, because you realize that you are capable of doing so.
Therefore, perceive these situations as challenges, not threats to your physical integrity.
3. Help yourself to positive self-instructions
Self-instructions are messages that we deliver to ourselves – consciously or unconsciously – and help us to have information about our performance in some task.
Surely you’ve said phrases like: “Too bad, I’m playing dumb”, “everyone will notice how nervous I am”, etc.
As you can imagine, these phrases will not help you achieve your goal of doing a task well, but rather the opposite.
Here are some examples you can use, depending on whether you apply them before the dreaded situation occurs, during or after it:
Before the situation.
- “Everything will be fine”.
- “There are no real reasons to worry.”
- “You’ve faced worse situations on other occasions.”
During the situation:
- “I’m doing very well.”
- “I’m breathing deeply.”
- “I’m calm, I’m doing this.”
after the situation
- “I did better than I expected.”
- “I’m proud of myself.”
- “Every time I do a little better and I find it easier.”
Practice this kind of positive self-instruction and you’ll gain more control over your nervousness.
4. Drink water or take a break
Certainly, there will be situations where you feel that your nervousness is overflowing, that the physical symptoms are getting too strong and you cannot control it.
In these cases, you can momentarily escape the situation that produces this state of extreme nervousness – but you must always expose yourself again.
If it’s an exposure in action, apologize for having to leave the room for a few minutes, practice the advice we mentioned earlier, and when you feel your breathing and heart rate normalize, expose yourself to the situation.
Drinking a glass of water will help calm your nerves, and if you chew gum or drink a candy, you can get an even greater calming effect.
That’s because your body realizes that if you’re eating or drinking, it’s not a real danger situation – if we were running away from a predator that wants to attack us, we wouldn’t stop to eat or drink.
The important thing is that you always face the situation that you escaped from because of your nervousness, because if you let go of it completely, it will increase your belief that you are not capable of reaching it.
5. Get enough rest
One of the reasons you may feel especially nervous or irritable is lack of physical rest.
Stress, nerves and irritability can increase on those days when the rest you did was not proportional to the physical and mental effort you put in.
As incredible as it sounds to you, when you study or perform tasks that require your intellectual skills, you need more sleep to recover – just like when you put in intense physical exertion.
So, take enough time to get restful sleep, as you will be better prepared to face the daily challenges in your work, in the academic field and in your personal relationships.
Try to ensure that nervousness does not cause insomnia as it can have negative consequences for the performance of daily tasks.
6. Build confidence in yourself
The nervous state usually occurs when we realize that we are not prepared enough or that we have little confidence or confidence in ourselves.
We also tend to get nervous when we think that our actions can have disastrous consequences – like not getting a job in the case of a job interview.
Therefore, the more confident we are in our abilities, the more confident we are of ourselves, the less nervous we will be, and the better our attitude will be.
Continuing the job interview example, what you need to do to develop more confidence in yourself is to prepare very well what you want to say, plan answers to common questions – such as your strengths and weaknesses – look for detailed information about the company in question. etc.
In addition, you must be careful with physical appearance, ensuring that your image fits the specific position you are requesting.
It’s not that you completely change the way you dress, it’s just that your clothes and accessories don’t attract much attention, so all the attention is on what you’re saying.
In the case of exhibitions – academic or work -, a good tactic to build your confidence would be to establish a script about everything you want to say – without the need to memorize the speech – and practice it with some members of your family, friends or partner.
This way, you can face a situation similar to the real one and will have the opportunity to practice different ways of presenting your presentation.
7. Practice sports regularly
The practice of physical exercise has numerous advantages, including the possibility of releasing the nervousness and stress produced throughout the day.
Therefore, you can benefit from the effects that sport has on your health and psychological well-being, as long as you practice regularly.
If you practice the sport in the morning, you will notice that you are more relaxed and in a better mood to deal with the altercations that occur during the workday.
8. Avoid stimulants like caffeine
Another important aspect that you should control is the consumption of stimulants such as caffeine. Reduce your intake of coffee, energy drinks, or sugary soft drinks so that the nervousness you feel is less or less.
If you need to use these substances to complete the workday, consider other alternative methods, such as increasing the number of hours of sleep at night or starting daytime naps.
Also, if you are a smoker, you can turn to tobacco when you are more nervous, feeling more relaxed after smoking a cigarette.
If this happens to you, it means that you have developed a physical dependence on tobacco, so that your body reacts with behavioral manifestations – tremor, nervousness, desire to smoke – when you haven’t smoked for a long time.
It is advisable in these cases to consider progressively quitting smoking, as you can see that nervousness can be both a cause and a consequence of smoking.
These are the tips we’ve provided so that you can better control situations in which you feel nervous.