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How To Stop Feeling Nervous

Written by Valentina Dragomir, Psychotherapist | Fact Checked | See our editorial process

I often work with people who ask me “how to get rid of emotions? What can I do to stop having emotions/ being nervous? ” or “how do I control my emotions?”. Let’s see quickly how we can do this.

To control your emotions it is important to go through several steps:

  • to understand exactly what these emotions mean
  • to understand what caused them
  • to change our thinking
  • to use appropriate techniques to calm emotions

What does it mean when you are nervous?

Usually when we say that we are nervous we usually refer to anxiety or enthusiasm, a state of agitation or anticipation. It is very important to know that it is normal to have emotions. We all have them, we each feel them in a personal way depending on the context. It is good to have emotions and to feel nervous. If we don’t have emotions then we can start asking ourselves some questions!

I will go a little bit into details, I know it’s counter-intuitive because you want to stop being nervous, but stay with me and I promise that what I tell you will help you.

Try to recognize what is the emotion you feel. What is this nervousness? Do you recognize other emotions too? Recognizing what emotions you feel helps to decrease their intensity. Dan Siegel says “name it to tame it”.

Then, try to recognize what happens in your body when you have emotions, or when you have this nervousness. Usually when you have emotions you could tremble or have shaking hands or legs, your heart starts beating harder as if it jumps out of your chest, your palms become wet, your mouth dries, or you may have gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms occur because our body is very active in these situations and you have hormones that help you, for example adrenaline and cortisol. These “stress hormones” help the body fight or escape from a stressful or dangerous situation.

The mind becomes very active producing thoughts of many kinds, many of them distorted. Thoughts play a decisive role in the appearance of emotions, including feeling nervous. That is why I recommend you to read more about these thoughts. Check the article below.

Where do emotions come from?

Most of the time, emotions come from what we think. I hope you read the recommended article below about the cognitive distortions. I will review the main categories of distorted thoughts that occur when we have emotions or feel nervous.

  • Catastrophization: What if I get fired? / What if he’s mad at me?
  • Black and white thinking: If I don’t take the interview, I’m a failure.
  • Guessing the future / Fortunetelling: I will fail the exam./ I will not like the new place. / I’m not going to make a good impression.
  • Mind reading: He’ll think I wasn’t prepared. / She thinks I am stupid.
  • Emotional judgment: I have emotions before the exam, so it’s a difficult exam.

Also, external events can be contexts in which we may feel nervous. For example:

  • you have to present something in front of a group of people
  • you have an interview
  • you meet a person you like
  • you have an exam
  • you are going to do something important

When do you feel nervous?

Techniques for reducing nervousness

It is very important to know that there are many things you can do to manage your emotions or nervousness. And I will write some of these techniques below.

From a therapeutic point of view, when someone tells me they want to get rid of feeling nervous, I understand that they want to calm down, to get rid of the discomfort felt when this emotion appears. We can change emotions only through behavioral interventions (by what we do) or cognitive (by changing our thoughts). Or chemically by drug treatment in case of mental health disorders, but below I do not write about this in this article.

In short:

Don’t run away from emotions

I know the opposite of feeling nervous is feeling calm. But we can’t stop the emotions that come to us sometimes. They appear as natural responses to what is happening inside our mind or outside of us. We could avoid or deny our emotions, but this is not healthy because emotions are part of the experience we have and have very important functions for us.

In addition, if we deny or avoid our emotions we actually deny the whole range of emotions because our braing does not know which are good or bad emotions. Four our brain all emotions are the same. It is healthy to integrate emotions and our feelings of being nervous into our lives, to accept them and make them our precious ally.

Here is an article that explains in detail what is managing emotions in 7 practical steps.

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Recommended read: How to manage your emotions

Balance your thinking

As I said above, most of the time the thoughts we have determine the emotions we feel. Thus, if we manage to balance our thinking, we will feel less emotions or less nervous, thus we calm down. Please note that I said “balance thinking” and not “think positive”, because the most important thing is to have as realistic thoughts based on clear evidence.

Positive thinking can sometimes lead to denial of reality, and this does not help in managing emotions. Because, first of all, you don’t believe these positive thoughts.

Balancing your thinking is done by confronting the thoughts you have when you are nervous, and by gathering evidence for and against them.

Use relaxation techniques

Breathing techniques or relaxing meditation are techniques that helps us activate a relaxing response in our body. This helps us calm down because the secretion of adrenaline and cortisol decreases when we practice these techniques. If the body understands that these hormones are not needed, their secretion will be reduced.

Relaxation techniques can be:

  • meditation
  • mindfulness
  • breathing techniques
  • yoga
  • exercising
  • guided meditations
  • listening to relaxing songs, sounds from nature or the chirping of birds

Try to use methods that focus on breathing. Practicing them for a few minutes (usually 10-20 depending on the method) helps activate the relaxation response in the body.

Try personal development or psychotherapy

Sometimes what we do by ourselves may be insufficient and we may need professional help to stop feeling nervous. Personal development and psychotherapy can help us become more self-controlled, get to know ourselves better and overcome the core beliefs that may hold us back. The core beliefs about oneself, the world, or others can become obsolete and can be obstacles to our personal or professional development.

PsihoSensus Therapy uses only reputable resources, scientific articles and research, medical journals and magazines, books and other relevant and reliable documents written by known researchers and specialists in the field, for writing articles. Read our editorial and publishing policy and how we write our articles.

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