Whether it's before an interview, a presentation, an audition, a first date or starting a new job, nerves have a way of pouncing just when we're needing to feel our most confident.
It's entirely understandable that we should feel this way; we're programmed to feel the rush of adrenaline and cortisol that prepares us to stand our ground or flee under threat. But you don't want that 'yikes, help!' feeling sabotaging that all-important moment or event.
Here are some strategies for coping.
This is the fastest, most effective way to trick your body into feeling calm.
A great, simple breathing exercise for soothing both the nervous system and an agitated mind is one where you make the breath out longer than the breath in. There are plenty of apps to help you with this technique, and others. Try Breathe2Relax and CalmKeeper.
2. Reframe the situation
Fear and excitement are very close cousins, chemically speaking, so if we re-label the rush as 'excitement', it can help to change the way we feel and prepare mentally for the situation.
For example, rather than before an interview, thinking 'I'm not good enough' or 'they might not like me', ask yourself what it is you love about this job and why you're just dying to get started. You can even verbalise the sentiment, 'I'm excited!' – complete with joyfully punching the air if you feel so inclined.
This way, you're totally flipping the script and will wow them with your enthusiasm.
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3. Know your stuff
The nerves will be well founded if you absolutely haven't done your homework before a presentation or interview.
Prepare well, practise out loud, anticipate thorny questions. Do all of this and you'll be able to assure yourself that all that positive self-talk (see above) is built on rock-solid foundations.
4. Get things in perspective
Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen?
If it's a date and you don't get along, you won't have a second date, and that's it. It's not like you just lost the love of your life – you only just met!
TOP TIP: Limit your caffeine intake. Too much coffee can nearly double the blood levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine.