This article was written in conjunction with a Personal Development Coach.
Do you find yourself constantly wondering, "Why am I so nervous?". Panic attacks, anxiety and stress are unfortunately all becoming increasingly common everyday health issues. The good news is that you're not alone and there are mindful, practical tips you can learn to help you cope with the event ahead that's causing you nervousness, or even how to deal with day to day life.
Does a job interview make you lose sleep? Are you prone to fretting before meeting new people or going into new situations? Sometimes just thinking of a dreaded situation looming on the horizon can make us twist and turn, lose sleep, overeat and bite our nails. But it’s really just our thoughts playing tricks on us.
Since we are the thinkers, it means that we can change our thinking. We don’t actually have to buy into the first thoughts that present themselves when we hear things like, 'job interview', 'date' or 'exam' for example. Here are a few ideas on how to change the thoughts you have about an important event that’s making you nervous.
First of all, start by recognizing that two weeks before the event takes place, there’s absolutely no need to start working yourself up. If you find yourself thinking, "OMG, it’s in two weeks! How will I cope? How will I stop being nervous when presenting ? I’ll never be ready!". Tell yourself very gently, "Stop”.
How to not be nervous during a presentation
Shift your self-talk. Find a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and write down all the things that are worrying you in the left-hand column. This is a great exercise to help you maintain a flexible approach and relax immediately before a presentation . They could be things like:
• I won’t know the right thing to say
• I’ll look awkward
• They’ll think I'm stupid
• I’m not what they think I am
• My voice will tremble when I talk
In the right hand-hand column, write down what actions you’re going to put in place to get rid of your worries. Things that will make them lose their power because they're no longer relevant. For example:
• I won’t know the right thing to say: I'll practise several well thought out things that I can start by saying. I’ll practise saying these things every day till they sound absolutely natural and till I feel at ease saying them.
• I'll look awkward: I'll try on several outfits to see which one suits me the best. I’ll take the time to practise putting on the make-up that feels just right for the situation. I’ll make sure to notice and to tell myself how good I look and how this makes me feel confident!
• They’ll think I'm stupid: Now why would they think that? Are you doing something stupid? What would the opposite of stupid be? Smart? Resourceful? What are the chances that these are the adjectives they’ll use about you? How often do you think that people are stupid? Chances are that you never think other people stupid, so why would they?
• I’m not what they think I am: Ask yourself what they can reasonably think of you, based on the information you’ve given them. Did you give them false information about yourself? If not, they’re likely to think exactly that of you which you’ve told them!
• My voice will tremble when I talk: Jump on the internet and find some breathing exercises. This will help you learn how to keep your voice from shaking when nervous . Start practising saying what it is you want to say using your breathing exercises and test out some power poses – they can really help boost your confidence.
How to calm your nerves and anxiety
Did you notice how all the things in the left-hand column were in the future? That’s because, in the present, everything’s well. You’re in the present, so you’re well. If you stay in the present, you’ll find out that when you look at it, you’re doing fine. It’s only when we let go of the present and project ourselves into the future, or the past, that we start feeling insecure. No wonder, because neither the future nor the past exist, do they? There is only the present!
The day finally arrives and you find yourself on your way to the important event. You could be driving there, or you could be sitting on the bus. In any case, just notice how everything’s going smoothly. Notice what the weather’s like. What’s outside the window? Feel yourself breathing in, then out. Nothing wrong, is there? You’re actually perfectly fine in the present moment. No need to panic. You’re well prepared, remember? Take the time to think about how good you look and how good you feel. Then thank yourself for having taken the time to prepare and for having negotiated this important event so splendidly. Well done, you!
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