dealing with nervousness

lots of people stress out about talking in front of the class or getting laughed at if they make a mistake in front of an audience. feeling nervous before a performance is natural — and part of your body’s way of helping you do your best. the “stress hormones” (like adrenaline) that your body produces at times like these can actually help you focus. but when worry and stress about performing get to be too much, these hormones give people that “red alert” feeling — the one that causes you to feel cold or sweaty, get butterflies in your stomach, or feel like you can’t think straight. note: all information on kidshealth® is for educational purposes only. for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2022 the nemours foundation. nemours® and kidshealth® are registered trademarks of the nemours foundation. all rights reserved.

we all know what it’s like to be nervous when we have an important meeting or presentation, but how can we successfully manage our nerves to put our best foot forward? perhaps we’re “not smart enough” or “not experienced enough” or “not knowledgeable enough.” they may begin to question whether we have confidence in ourselves, and then consider why we don’t have confidence. they are more likely to generate counter-arguments to our message and divert their attention to think about us as a speaker personally rather than what it is we’re saying. this is regardless of whether it’s a large presentation, a small meeting or just an important one-to-one. then when you’re in a calm, non emotionally-charged moment, consider what you rationally believe to be true and come up with counter-statements. it’s actually easier to purposefully choose to be courageous than it is to build our confidence in a particular moment. recognizing that we’re lacking confidence and realizing that we don’t exactly know how to be more confident can actually make us have even less confidence.

this proactive step in choosing courage can lead to a positive psycho-physiological response and enable us to “show up” better. i learned this the hard way when i hyperventilated right before my first big presentation and was taken from the client office to hospital. before your meeting, take effective deep breaths by breathing in for 3-4 counts and out for 5-6. in addition to the positive physiological impact, having to focus on the uneven counting gives your brain a direct-experience moment: a break from the forward-thinking narrative where we spend most of our mental energy (which is largely what induces nerves — thinking ahead about what may or may not happen). write down your strengths, skills and achievements. even if you can’t trust your own judgement about whether you’re the right person for the role, trust their experience and belief that you are. whether it’s by doing a course, being proactive about getting more on-the-job learning or reading industry updates, when we’re on the journey of developing ourselves we have increased confidence knowing that even though we may not be 100% “enough” now, we’re on our way. if we didn’t have that awful feeling occasionally, that would suggest we’re not pushing our boundaries. people who live inside their comfort zone and continue to do the same work feel comfortable. knowing you’re choosing to engage in the very thing that’s making you nervous makes it easier to push back your shoulders and knock off that gremlin.

don’t be afraid of the nervous feeling. when you feel performance jitters, don’t freak out! don’t let the feeling stop you or intimidate you. just let it be nerve-busting strategies 1. breeeeathe. when you focus on slowing your breathing, you can actually short-circuit your nervous system – meaning, you’ll start to if you feel nervous frequently, try slowing down and letting yourself feel your nerves completely without a fight. don’t put a time limit on it–instead just, .

how to stop anxiety use a mantra: a mantra can shift your mind away from anxious thoughts that play over and over in your head, kissen says., . here are some helpful, actionable tips you can try the next time you need to calm down.breathe. admit that you’re anxious or angry. challenge your thoughts. release the anxiety or anger. visualize yourself calm. think it through. listen to music. change your focus. if you experience any of these, don’t worry, there are ways to manage it:tell yourself you’re excited. we get a lot of the same physical symptoms with excitement, as we do with fear and nervousness. focus, focus, focus. as easy as a walk in the park. record your mood. tell someone you trust how you feel.

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