Minimize Your Nervousness

“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”
Benjamin Franklin
“If I don’t train enough, of course I’m nervous.“
Haile Gebrselassie

You start to tremble just a bit. Your palms become moist. A hand or foot starts to fidget. The inner calmness you felt has flown out the window. You don’t feel so good anymore.
Nervousness is back, like an old friend you didn’t want to see.
Just in time for your date, important meeting at work or your presentation in school.
So what can you do?
Back down and cancel? Plow through the date or meeting while being not quite your best self?
Sure. I have done both. But a better approach that I have learned throughout recent years is to establish habits that minimize or sometimes even get rid of the nervousness.
Here’s what to do.

Prepare if possible.
A bit obvious. But doing your preparation in time and not at the last minute and doing it well – without trying to do it perfectly – rather than sloppily make a big difference.
You’ll feel more sure of yourself and relaxed about what you are about to do.
If you have an important meeting, do your homework so you know what will or may come up in the meeting.
If you have a date, perhaps try to think of 2-3 interesting topics/questions to bring up in case the conversational flow hits a stop.
If you have a job interview, think about what they may ask you and figure out some good answers.

Slow down and breathe with your belly.
A few minutes before you step into the situation that makes you nervous slow down. Walk slower to the meeting place. Move slower. Even stop for a minute if you like and stand still.
Then breathe. Take a little deeper breath than usual. Make sure you breathe with your belly. Not with your chest (a common problem when people get stressed or nervous).
Focus on just your slow in- and out-breaths for a minute or two. This will calm you down, make it easier to think normally again and that singular focus can draw you back into this moment again rather than past failures or future worries.

Assume rapport in social situations.
After you have slowed down and focused on your breathing I have another good habit if you still feel a bit nervous and you are going into some kind of social situation. This one worked especially well for me when I was single and was dating. And it is also very useful just before any other kind of meeting.
The habit is to assume rapport.
This means that just before you met someone you pretend and think to yourself that you are meeting one of your best friends.
Then you’ll naturally slip into a much more relaxed, comfortable, confident and enjoyable emotional state and frame of mind. In this state of mind the conversation tends to flow more naturally too, without much thinking. Just like with your friends.
This is one of the very best and helpful habits I have adopted in the past 7 years or so.

Tell yourself that you are excited.
Harness the nervous energy into something that will help you.
If you cannot minimize the nervousness in some situations by using the tips above then take a different approach.
When the nervousness bubbles up, tell yourself that you are excited about the meeting, presentation etc. This helps you to change perspective on what is happening inside of you and I have found that it helps me to get a boost of enthusiasm and openness for a short while.
So I can go into that meeting with that more helpful mindset and emotional state. And a few minutes into the meeting the energy has usually been used in a useful way and I go back to feeling more relaxed and centered again.

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