NervesWe all get nervous from time to time. The symptoms vary and can range from shortness of breath, a pulsating heart, butterflies in the stomach, through to sweating and even dizziness. I was interviewed on radio for MINDFOOD Australia last week, and I have to admit for the half an hour before the interview, I felt pretty nervous! Yep, it happens to us all.

So why do we get nervous?

Lack of preparation

There are a few theories on this…the first is a lack of preparation. If we anticipate an event or situation that we feel on some level we are not quite ready for, then we can feel nervous. The simple solution to this of course, is to prepare! If you know you have an important presentation or event coming up, do what you can to make sure you’re prepared in advance and you are much less likely to feel nervous.

Importance of mindset

I once interviewed the famous millionaire and entrepreneur, Siimon Reynolds about his top strategies when it comes to dealing with nerves when presenting in public. One of the steps he mentioned really resonated with me and this is what he said:

“I switch my mindset from looking good to trying to help the audience.”

So, instead of focusing on how he will look to the audience, or how others are thinking of him, he switches his focus to helping others in some way. This is a really invaluable tip and one that you can apply to any kind of nervous situation, because once you’re in a space where your focus is on other people, not yourself, it’s hard to be nervous!

Taking control of our physiology

Another great way to deal with nerves from a physical perspective is to take control of your physiology. For most people, when they start to get nervous, their breath quickens. Why does this happen? Usually as a result of an increased heart rate. So, the fastest way to relax the body (and therefore the mind), is to slow down the breath. So how do you do that? With one very simple technique that goes like this:

  1. Inhale slowly and deeply for a count of 10
  2. Hold your breath for a count of 10
  3. Exhale the breath very slowly for a count of 10
  4. repeat X3.

If you try this exercise, you’ll be surprised how quickly it works. If you hold your breath, you literally slow down your heart rate which in turn causes feelings of relaxation in the body. It’s that simple.

Positive thinking

Another key driver for nerves is negative thinking. Usually when we feel nervous it’s because we’re worried or stressed about something going wrong. So it can be useful to take control of the mind and think of a positive phrase that supports whatever you’re feeling nervous about going well. You can say to yourself: “I can do this!” or “This is going to be great!” to switch your mind from negative to positive.


Finally, it can really help to visualise the situation going well. The mind responds particularly well to pictures (over words) and imagining a video playing in your mind where everything is working out just perfectly can do wonders to your nerves! Remember this is not woowoo stuff – Harvard research has now proven that just thinking about something can literally change the neural pathways in your brain, so give it a try.

Simple Life Strategy: 5 Steps to Calm Your Nerves

1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Do your homework! Make sure you are well prepared for whatever you’re feeling nervous for and you are less likely to worry about it.

2. Turn your focus to others. Instead of worrying about what people will think of you, keep focused on trying to help others and your nerves will dissipate.

3. Slow down your breathing. Inhale for 10, hold the breath for 10 and then slowly exhale for 10. You’ll very quickly notice that your body feels a lot more relaxed.

4. Think positive! Switch your thinking from negative to positive. Come up with a positive phrase and repeat this a few times.

5. Visualise the situation going well. Whatever you’re nervous about, imagine it in your mind going perfectly; exactly how you would want it to go!

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