How to control your nerves (How to)


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Page last updated: 18/10/2022

How to control nerves

In this brief post, we will consider how to control your nerves in difficult situations and encounters and how controlling your nerves can lead to better wellbeing.

How to control your nerves?

You can try to calm your nerves by taking deep breaths using your belly (diaphragm). Using slow diaphragmatic breathing can be wonderful by helping you settle your mind and relax your body.

 Additionally, you can calm your nerves by using herbs or supplements such as Lemon Balm, Kava Kava, and Valerian Root. They will help you control your nerves and calm your body. You can check out the Best Natural Herbs for Anxiety.

First of all, understand why you are getting nervous. The first thing to realize is that it’s completely normal to feel nervous and in some cases, it can actually boost our performance. It’s simply part of how we are wired. 

Feeling nervous or anxious is your body’s natural reaction to potential threats or harmful situations. This can evoke the “fight or flight”  response where your senses sharpen, your intuition kicks in, you become energized, and very active. All useful as you prepare to take action.

Imagine that you’re about to speak in public. You are naturally feeling anxious and nervous. You start to panic. You think… “I need to control my nerves to perform well”. So what do you do? You’d probably try to calm yourself by breathing deeply and using relaxation techniques.

To control your nerves visualize yourself as having exceeded in the situation and having a positive outcome, focus on the good aspects, control your breathing and try your best to distract your mind from any catastrophic or negative thinking. 

Your nerves are only the result of how you perceive or interpret the available information. When there is uncertainty about the future or the circumstances, this is when you get nervous, because there is a sense of not having real control over the situation. However, most of those thoughts are irrational but our brain processes them as facts or to be true.

How to control your nerves (How to)

Advantages and disadvantages of uncontrolled nerves  

When you start feeling nervous, you can notice how all the physical symptoms start to manifest such as a faster heart rate and breathing, shaking and trembling, sweating, among others. This can lead to losing focus and concentration since your heart is sending all the blood to your extremities to make sure you are able to fight or flight from the situation. 

Moreover, you can feel agitated, irritable and restless. This is considered the disadvantages of uncontrolled nerves. However, nerves are not bad and are not going to kill you but you can certainly feel how your heart can be about to burst or pop out your chest at any moment

But, what if your uncontrolled response and nervousness can actually help you learn and gain some valuable experience? It is really a matter of perception. They simply mean you are stepping out of your comfort zone and it can actually bring long term benefits if you shift the perspective. 

How can I overcome my nerves?

There are a few steps you can follow to gain insight on how to overcome your nerves, for instance:

Tip 1: Gain some insight

First, identify what you are feeling is normal and call it by its name. Now, think about what it is exactly you are feeling and thinking at that moment. 

Identify what is triggering your nerves. Some of the most common causes could be fear of humiliation or embarrassment, being rejected or criticized, or the possibility of making a mistake. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is it that I am afraid of?
  • Are these fears rational or they are part of my imagination?
  • How can this situation potentially hurt me?

In addition, it is important to understand that there are some fears that are rational and some others are just fabricated by your mind. For instance, if someone tried to rob you with a machete in their hands, your fear towards this situation can be classed as dangerous and harmful.

 However, if you are facing an audience while giving an oral presentation, this is not considered as harmful or dangerous but your mind will try to convince you to think otherwise. 

Tip 2: Challenge your thoughts

Shifting your perspective from negative to positive can help you control your nerves. For instance, you could ask yourself if you could actually view this situation from another point of view what would you tell yourself from outside looking in? What if you confused your nervousness with excitement? They are virtually the same response but it is your perspective that makes it negative. 

As soon as you have analyzed the situation from another perspective then you can be open to the possibility that maybe feeling nervous or over-worrying is an exaggerated response over the situation. Ask yourself what can you learn and gain from that experience. 

Tip 3: Deep breathing

When you focus your attention on feeling your breathing and especially when you do it at a slower pace than what you are used to, you can start regulating your physical symptoms and calm yourself. Close your eyes and visualize yourself in a calm setting such as a garden or a rain forest by a lake. Imagine all the details and use your senses to perceive everything around you.

Take a few seconds between every breath and slowly release it, you’ll feel much better after. 

Tip 4: Feel excited

Yes, it sounds like a very hard thing to do when you are about to burst into tears or run away from a situation. However, as we discussed, excitement and fear share the same physical reactions. If instead of adopting a thread mindset, try to have an opportunity mindset. 

When you are feeling nervous try saying out loud “I am feeling excited” this way you can reprogram your brain and trick it to think it is not a dangerous or threatening situation, on the contrary, it is something that you can potentially enjoy if you shift your mindset. 

If you have tried everything and nothing seems to work

Nerves can sometimes get the best of us and make us feel vulnerable, powerless and frustrated. If you have tried every tip, technique or method out there on your own and nothing seems to work, then you should consider getting extra help from a trusted friend or relative to talk about how you are feeling. 

There is nothing to be ashamed of but if you want, you can also consider talking to a professional in mental health so they can help you regain your control over your life back. 

Why is this blog about “how to control your nerves” important?

As we discussed, feeling nervous is not necessarily a bad thing. This is how we were wired and has a biological and evolutionary perspective. However, when we let our anxiety control us then we can have problems in our day to day functioning and then is when the nervousness can make you feel frustrated, powerless and vulnerable, and those are sensations that can make you very uncomfortable. 

Using the tips and techniques we have mentioned can help you in various settings and situations and if you practice, you can actually see some benefits. It will change your perspective and how you deal with certain situations. However, when you feel you are too overwhelmed by your nerves and what you are feeling, then it is time to consider getting professional help to cope with it. 

Feel free to comment in the comments section below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to control your nerves

How do I calm my nerves?

Here are some useful tips that can help you calm your nerves:

  1. Take deep breaths and exhale the air slowly
  2. Acknowledge you are feeling anxious or angry.
  3. Challenge your thoughts.
  4. Try to release your anxiety or anger.
  5. Visualize yourself calm. 
  6. Use logic to think your thoughts through.
  7. Listen to some calm and relaxing music.
  8. Shift your focus. 

How can I control my driving test nerves?

You can control your driving test nerves by recognizing you are feeling nervous, identifying the symptoms (such as sweating, trembling, fast-paced heartbeat, fast-paced breathing, butterflies in your stomach). Then you can start by calming your body through deep breathing, listening to music (such as classical) and use Lavender scented oils the night before your test (aromatherapy) can have a soothing effect.  Aroma candles are also used for aromatherapy. Check the Best Candle for Anxiety.

Additionally, to help you calm your thoughts you can use visualization of a nice and relaxing place detailing it, use mindfulness meditation to be able to experience the moment and redefine your mood starting to laugh remembering something funny or simply practice smiling tricking your mind to think positively. 

How can I control my nerves in an interview?

There are a few ways you can control your nerves in an interview:

  1. Go for a Walk before your interview, concentrate on the scenery and the things you see.
  2. Practice the S.T.O.P Method. Stop what you are doing at the moment and focus on your thoughts, take deep breaths, observe how your body is reacting and all the emotions and proceed by incorporating yourself into your present moment after observing your actions. 
  3. Visualize yourself as having already gotten the job position and it makes you feel.
  4. Make an Interview Cheat Sheet with the most common questions and your answers, this way you can anticipate their questions and you can be more in control of the situation.
  5. Plan Something for Afterwards. Try meeting with a friend for something to drink or just to chat about how you felt during the interview without making any negative comments or verbalizations about it.
  6. Eat a Good Breakfast or lunch before your interview, this way you won’t be thinking about how hungry you are and it can help you feel more relaxed.
  7. Give Yourself a Pep Talk. Try using some self-motivation and talk to yourself about your strengths and skills, and why this position is meant for you, 

You can relax your mind by taking slow and deep breaths, try taking a warm bath, listening to some relaxing music, practicing mindful meditation, writing your thoughts and feelings or use visualization of a nice place such as a beach or a garden with as much detail as possible. 

There are a few drinks you can use to help you calm your nerves:

Green tea
Valerian root
Cherry juice
Warm milk