Nervousness is a term used to describe a generalized state of anxiety, and can range from mild to severe. Signs of nervousness include feelings of worry and apprehension, sweaty palms, and that funny sensation in the stomach often referred to as butterflies. Everyone experiences feelings of nervousness at some time in their life, but if it becomes chronic or excessive, nervousness may end up causing physical and emotional problems, as well as cognitive impairment. Here, we will look at ways to overcome nervousness and become a calmer, more centered person.
Rule Out Physical Problems
If nervousness is troubling you, or has become a chronic problem, it’s important to first rule out underlying physical problems. Certain medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, depression, and anxiety disorders may cause feelings of nervousness. Other possible causes can include drug withdrawals, medication side effects, alcohol abuse and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If nervousness is a problem for you, talk with your doctor and get a complete check up.
Get Enough Sleep
In today’s fast-paced world, it may seem impossible to get enough sleep. But habitual lack of sleep creates physical and emotional stress, which can lead to nervousness and a myriad of other health problems. Improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep by going to sleep at the same time every night. Don’t take part in stimulating activities such as studying, lively discussions or computer games at least an hour before going to bed. Opt for calmer activities such as light reading, watching a mindless television show or listening to soothing music. Refrain from eating a heavy meal, drinking beverages with caffeine, or drinking alcohol at least three hours before bedtime.
Watch What You Eat
Proper nutrition plays an important part in not only your physical health, but also your emotional well-being. Avoid processed foods which tend to be lacking in nutrients, and opt for healthy whole food choices such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean meat.
Watch your caffeine intake, as too much can easily leave you feeling nervous and jittery. Cut back on sugary foods, or avoid them all together. Lack of hydration can also make you feel nervous or irritable, so make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Develop Your Self-Confidence
For many people, a big contributor to chronic nervousness is a lack of self-confidence. When confidence is lacking, a person can feel vulnerable, anxious and at the mercy of the world. To build confidence, identify and focus on your personal strengths, rather than focusing on weaknesses. If new situations make you nervous, such as an interview or speech, practice beforehand by rehearsing the situation with a friend. If you worry what other people think of you, realize that most everyone has similar feelings. Rather than focusing on that worry, turn it around by helping others feel better about themselves. When interacting with people be friendly, ask diplomatic questions and give genuine compliments. Be forgiving toward yourself, and realize that no one is perfect.
Overcome Negative Thinking
Negative thinking is the messages we play in our heads that feed our worries and create anxiety. You know, those thoughts such as, “I’m such a loser”, “I know I’m going to mess up”, etc., that end up undermining your sense of worth and creating fear. Learn to catch yourself as you begin a negative thought, and replace it with something more positive. For example, instead of “I’m a loser”, you could tell yourself, “Everyone makes mistakes. What can I now learn from this mistake?” Or, instead of, “I’m going to mess this up”, tell yourself, “This worry I’m feeling is normal. I know I’ve prepared for this situation, and I’ll do the best I can.” Practice this every day, and learn to be more compassionate toward yourself and others.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
There are a large number of relaxation techniques that can help you overcome feelings of nervousness, with abdominal breathing exercises being one of the simplest and most effective. While lying down, or sitting in a straight backed chair, place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose and, as you do so, you should feel the hand on your abdomen rise higher than the hand on your chest. This means you’re breathing from your diaphragm, rather than taking shallow breaths through your chest. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Continue breathing this way for several minutes, and you will notice your body and mind begin to relax.
Other relaxation techniques that may be helpful include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, tai chi and gentle stretching.
When to Seek Help
If you find that nervousness is becoming a chronic, overwhelming problem it may be helpful to seek professional help. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to get a medical check up to rule out underlying medical causes. If there is no physical cause, you may find that counseling is the way to go. Psychotherapy can be very effective at finding the root causes of your fears, while working on ways to overcome them. A therapist can also advise you on how to develop greater confidence and teach various relaxation methods.
Overcoming nervousness can take time, but with patience and practice you can become a more calm and confident person.