Calming your nerves

May 21, 2021

The big moment is almost here – a job interview, important presentation, a wedding speech – and your nerves are getting to you. What if you stuff up or make a fool of yourself? So much could go wrong and you’d never live it down.

Being nervous is normal. In fact, being a bit stressed helps us to perform better. But only up to a point. Too much stress and our ability to function drops off. So being a bit nervous can be a good thing, but we want to avoid the nerves taking over and spoiling everything.

Here are a few tips, simple things you can do to get the balance right. First, get into the right frame of mind by adjusting your attitudes and emotions. Dwell on the positives. You were chosen to be there in the big moment for a reason – things that are special about you. It’s an honour to be asked. Others want to hear what you have to say. Your expertise and hard work got you to this point. Try to be excited rather than terrified. Positive emotions help us perform much better than the negative ones so tell yourself the experience will be a good one and practice saying it aloud if you can. When negative thoughts creep in, stop immediately and replace them with happy ones.

My next tip will surprise you. It involves a bottle of icy water and is something you can do right before you are due to perform. Have a bottle of half-frozen water handy. Wrap your hands around it. Take a few mouthfuls and repeat as often as you need to. Another idea is to crunch on a few ice blocks. I’d suggest dunking your head in icy water but let’s be practical – you will be on show. On the other hand, if you get panic attacks, dunking is a good thing to do when you feel one coming on! Opinions differ as to why icy water helps, but many people find that the cold sharpens their minds and senses. Think of those people who dive into freezing ocean water during winter, and how exhilarated they feel for the rest of the day.

These are just a few tips for dealing with stressful moments. I have many more to share. If you have performance anxiety, worry too much or simply need some strategies to calm your mind, contact me to talk things through.

Dr Judith Chapman

Psychologist PhD MAPS

Now, and throughout my career, I have helped people lead happier and healthier lives. Most people want to enjoy their hobbies and interests, form enduring relationships and feel valued as part of a community. If you would like some assistance with coaching or counselling, please book an appointment »

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