Being nervous is something we have all experienced. It is a healthy emotion, even though it feels like an extremely unhealthy one when you are feeling it! Nervousness is a built-in tool to help you recognize when there is a possible reward or danger ahead, which makes it an emotion that you need to pay attention to. But, you don’t need to live in a state of nervousness for a long period of time. There are things you can do to work through the nervousness and get busy taking action on what you want to do or enjoying the moment.
It’s important to remember, though, that if you are nervous because there is a good chance you could die, it might be wise NOT to take action! I remember being nervous about driving on ice with a friend when I was younger, and I had every right to be nervous. I was an idiot to push through the nervousness and give it a shot, so take my hindsight and use it to your advantage.
But, if you are nervous about a first date, a job interview, a first day on the job, a meeting that could advance your career, or anything else that could result in something great, take action and you won’t regret it.
Why Do You Have Physical Symptoms When Nervous?
When you are nervous, you may sweat, get a lump in your throat, have dry mouth, feel short of breath, be fidgety, feel numbness in your extremities, and many other physical symptoms. Why is that? It’s because when you are in an extreme state of nervousness, your body goes into a fight or flight mode, and your nervous system releases stress hormones that can increase blood sugar and blood fat, and all of that causes physical issues in the body.
Moreover, increased blood sugar and fat is meant to be for fuel during a time of stress. During times of nervousness, it isn’t often used for physical activity, which means that bigger issues can happen in the body, including digestive disorders, a suppressed immune system, and even a heart attack.
In other words, you need to work through your nervousness, not just for your mental health, but for your physical health as well. This is especially true if you are going to be facing a lot of new challenges in the near future. The more challenges you have, the more likely you could be in a constant state of nervousness.
Why Are You So Nervous?
Some people are nervous about everything while others are only nervous when they have to go out of their comfort zone and do something that is scary to them. Occasional nervousness can happen when you are faced with something that doesn’t feel good to you. This is normal. It’s human nature to be nervous about things that scare you.
However, if you are nervous more often than not, then you may have an anxiety disorder. You can take the quiz at http://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-tests/anxiety-disorder-test.shtml that will help you determine if you have an anxiety disorder and to what degree it is. You will want to find out because if you are living with an anxiety disorder, mental problems such as depression can occur, and that will affect your entire life in a very negative way. It’s important to tackle the anxiety.
However, if you are sure that you are just experiencing nervousness because of something big that is coming up, then following is a step-by-step game plan you can use to beat your nervousness and resist the temptation to turn back and avoid the experience altogether.
10 Steps To Work Through Nervousness
Step 1: Boost Your Confidence
When I was younger, I was always nervous about going on dates, until I started to feel like I was a real catch. Then I went into dates with the expectation of impressing my date, and that took away a huge portion of the nervousness I felt. I’ve used this in many other scenarios and it always works. When you feel confident in yourself, you don’t worry so much about the situation because you know that you are going to nail it.
For me, positive self-talk was the best way to increase my confidence. It was a matter of repeating other people’s compliments and embracing my strengths that led to the self-confidence that banished most of my nervousness. I chose to start believing good things about myself and reminding myself how great I was in any situation I encountered.
Step 2: Embrace Nervousness
When you are nervous, it means something good could happen. It means you are going into a situation where you could gain something, such as a new friend, new opportunity, new lover, more money, more happiness, more success, or whatever else you want. You have to embrace the nervousness as a sign that something great is about to happen. Doing that will motivate you to take the risks you need to take.
Step 3: Burn Off Some Energy
Being nervous boosts your energy. As we said, your body releases hormones that increase your blood sugar and fat, which means that you should get physical to burn some of that energy off. Go for a power walk or run, dance, or do something else that helps to burn off the excess energy that would normally make you fidgety. The less fidgety you are, the less you will concentrate on your nerves.
Step 4: Take The Pressure Off
If you are nervous, then you are viewing the event as something big in your life. But, by making it into less than it seems to be, you can take the pressure off and help reduce the nervousness that you feel. You can do this by viewing it as just another moment in your life. It’s not the moment that will determine how the rest of your life will go. It is just a moment where you get a chance to experience something new or possibly bring something new into your life. When you view it as just a moment, you will take the pressure off a bit.
Step 5: Meditate
Take a few moments to sit and meditate. Nervousness comes from heavy thoughts where you are putting a lot of attention onto the experience coming up. You are thinking about it so much that you can start to obsess about it, which can really work up the nerves and make the experience into something scary because obsessing is full of worry and imagined scenarios.
Step 6: Write About It
Take some time to write down everything you feel. For instance, how the opportunity happened, why you want to take it, why you feel nervous, and what you want to happen during the experience. Writing does two things. First, it helps you get out of your thoughts and put things into perspective, which is a huge way to lessen nerves. Second, writing is therapeutic. The process of writing down your feelings has been shown to improve psychological and physical health. Moreover, expressive writing has been shown to help stress-related symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. [Source: http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338]
Step 7: Practice
Play out the situation in your mind so that you can practice. Practicing what you are going to do or say can help you build a framework for the situation. You may not be able to pull off exactly what you practiced, but it will give you something to pull from to help you do your best during the moment.
For example, if you practice what you are going to say before you go out on a date, it can help you get through any awkward moments. You may not remember everything that you practiced, but by repeating things to yourself over and over again, there is a good chance that you will remember a few things, and those can be the very things that help you find something to talk about during a moment where you have drawn a complete blank.
Step 8: Embrace Failure
Part of being nervous is that you feel like it might not work out. If you knew that everything was going to be alright, then you would likely move into a situation without much thought. But, when the potential to fail is there, nervousness can easily become a dominant emotion as you worry about what might happen.
The thing you have to remember is that if failure happens, life will go on. You will leave the experience without what you wanted, but you will have gained some new knowledge and possibly learned a lesson.
For instance, I have a friend who has been on so many job interviews that he could probably be a professional at it! He works contract jobs, so he is constantly trying to sell himself to people. Needless to say, he has failed many times on his job interviews, but each time he learns something new that helps him feel more comfortable for the next one. He hopes for the best, but he embraces failure before he even has the interview so that his nerves don’t make him act anxious, ungrateful or upset during the interview, and also so that he doesn’t burn any bridges that may pan out in the future.
Step 9: Get Pumped
Pumping yourself up will help you get your feet moving. If you are not excited, then the chances are good that you will drag your feet and may even talk yourself out of going through with it. The best way to pump yourself up is with music. When you listen to music, a part of your brain called the nucleus accumbens becomes active, and that releases dopamine into your body. The nucleus accumbens is the part of the brain that dominates the reward system. [Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25102783]
Dopamine does many different things for you, but one that is of importance here is motivation. Studies have shown that it can actually encourage you to choose the harder choice. In fact, studies have found that people who are willing to work hard for their results have higher dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex and striatum, which are two areas that impact motivation and reward. Moreover, dopamine deficiency results in lack of motivation and hopelessness.
While there are many things that increase dopamine, such as food, supplements, exercise, and meditation, music is the easiest thing you can do to get yourself pumped. You can plug in some earphones and listen to it anywhere you are.
Step 10: Get A Pep Talk
When we are nervous, we tend to talk in a negative and worried tone. If you still have any nerves left at this point, give yourself a pep talk before the big moment. That pep talk can get you excited, boost your confidence, reduce your fears, and help the nervousness fade away.
If you can, call someone who is great at pep talks. If you have your own personal coach telling you exactly what you need to hear, then all you have to do is listen, accept what they are saying, and get moving. However, if you don’t have someone to give you a pep talk, then you can easily do it yourself.
The main aspects of a good pep talk include listing off the benefits that motivate you to keep moving forward, asking questions to help you confirm why this is so beneficial, and leaving out any negative words or questions.
For instance, if you are feeling nervous about a date coming up, your pep talk could be something like this – “This is going to be a great experience where you will meet someone new. You may even find a new partner for life! You deserve more love in your life, and this is a great way to get it! Are you ready to be happier? Of course you are! Are you capable of giving it your all during this date? Of course you are! Now, let’s go and get ’em!”
After your pep talk, put one foot in front of the other. Live in the moment and enjoy what is happening rather than stressing about it. If you enjoy the experience, without evaluating how good or bad it is going, you will find your nervousness will be gone because you will be too wrapped up in the moment to give your nerves the time of day.