How to Stop Nervousness Immediately
Do you HATE getting nervous? I do. I despise the fight or flight response that happens every time I have to speak in front of people or feel intimidated by someone.
Here are 3 things you can do to stop nervousness on the spot:
1. Focus on your breathing – Breathing properly calms the sympathetic nervous system, or your “fight or flight” response. Perceived threats don’t come from rabidly hungry beasts for most people anymore; they come in the form of deadlines, angry bosses, unsettled coworkers, and belligerent online users. This can mean that we don’t burn off the flight-fight response, instead allowing the stress chemicals and hormones like cortisol to become elevated and swim around our body unabated.
And the breathing becomes stressed too: short, sharp, stabs of breathing over which you have little focus. Signs that you need to turn your focus to better breathing include a tight neck, bunched-up shoulders, shallow breathing, a tight chest, and a tension headache.
By starting to breathe slowly, you will signal your brain to relax, as you slow down the release of adrenalin and cortisol, and increase the release of endorphins. You will also fully oxygenate your brain and body, allowing your heartbeat to slow and your blood pressure to stabilize.
2. Decide to stop fighting your nervous feelings.
Say to yourself: “Argh. I feel really nervous. I didn’t even know that bit of me could sweat. Okay body, you win. You’re allowed to feel as bad as you want.”
Open the gates to your nervous feelings.
Sit down quietly and let them happen. Don’t put a time limit on it. Allow those horrible feelings free rein, for as long as they want. Let them romp around the playground of your nervous system while you hold their coats. Just get out of the way and let them get on with it.
Here’s what usually happens. You feel incredibly awful for about ten or twenty seconds, then you start to feel much better. It’s weird, but that’s how it works.
You’re braced for impact, and it is pretty excruciating for the first second or two, but then those hot, all-consuming feelings evaporate. They’re like naughty kids who’ve been smearing glue into the carpet and hoovering the cat while you ignore them.
When you actually turn around and give them your full attention, they suddenly calm down.
This technique won’t stop you feeling nervous altogether, and it’s suitable for temporary situations like job interviews, auditions, speeches, performances and presentations. (If you’re experiencing a strongly nervous feeling on an on-going basis, talk to your doctor.)
You may also have to use the technique a bunch of times in the run-up to whatever it is you’re about to do. Before a big audition, I’ve used it in the shower, while getting dressed, in the car, and while waiting to be called in. If you commit to it, it really does give you a break from those dreadful sensations.