Shortness of breath, a racing heartbeat, butterflies in the tummy, sweaty and dizzy–it’s part of human nature to feel nervous and it happens to us all. However, some people find it more difficult to control their worries, experiencing these symptoms more frequently. People with long-term anxiety or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) will feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. Those who have been diagnosed will struggle to relax, and maybe even find it difficult to remember the last time they have felt at ease.
What causes anxiety?
The exact cause of GAD is not fully understood, but about 5% of the UK population suffer from it, having significant effects on their daily lives. It is believed that some people are physiologically more prone to anxiety, while others have an imbalance of brain chemicals such as serotonin and noradrenaline. Other factors include genetics, having a history of trauma, long-term health conditions such as arthritis or substance misuse.
For those who don’t suffer from GAD, nervousness is typically caused by stress–not knowing how to solve something or being unsure of how something will play out. Eventually, you may topple down a slippery slope thinking about things you don’t want happening, how something could go wrong, what negative thoughts people may have, or your worst fears finally coming true. These five steps you can take to control your nerves and calm your mind are not permanent solutions, but can work short-term to help ease the symptoms when your nerves start acting up.
1. Slow down your breathing
Slow, deep breaths may be the most simple way to relax, lowering your blood pressure and heart rate instantaneously. Try letting your breath flow as deep down into your belly as comfortable; in through your nose and out through your mouth. Some people use the 7/11 technique: breathing in for 7 counts and out for 11. Without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently. Use this breathing technique for three to five minutes. The good thing about changing your breathing is that it can be done anywhere, whether that be sitting in the train, standing in queue for a coffee or laying in bed.
2. Think positively
This one’s always easier said than done, but changing the tone of your thoughts from negative to positive can have a huge influence on your stress levels. For example, instead of thinking about how strenuous your week ahead is, think about them as challenges you will overcome that will make you happy in the end – cheesy but necessary! It’s also important to allow mistakes to happen, both in the past and future, reminding yourself that no one is perfect, allowing yourself to move forward.
3. Use visualisation techniques
Have you ever daydreamed? Fantasised about the things you want? If the answer is yes (which it probably is), then you already know, more or less, how to visualise things. But the term ‘creative visualisation’ is the act of using this to your advantage–visualising positive outcomes to things that are stressing you out. For example, if you have a big presentation coming up that’s making you nervous, try thinking about the best possible way it will go. Visualisation is an instant mood boost on hectic days when you’re feeling tense, and even if they’re unrealistic, they’re guaranteed to make you feel better.
4. Try meditating for five minutes
There’s evidence that just two quick rounds of silent meditation per day can relieve stress and depression. Even if it’s just five minutes per day, you could reap in the benefits of meditation. Meditating has gained popularity in recent years as a mind-body medicine requiring no extra equipment. It aims to take control of your state of mind by transforming it in a way that encourages increased concentration, clarity and emotional positivity. You can meditate in a guided form through online platforms, take classes or practice specific forms of meditation such as mindfulness.
5. Be prepared
There is no better way to calm your nerves for a specific event other than to feel fully prepared. With that, don’t forget to manage your time wisely. Practice your speech well in advance, memorise what to say to others in social interactions and have every counteract ready for those situations that make you most worried. Write it out, if it helps, and confide in family or friends for more support. That way, when it gets closer to the date of the event, you’ll have all the tricks necessary up your sleeve–and hopefully–your nerves won’t get the best of you.
While these steps can ease short-term symptoms of nervousness, always contact a medical professional if you think you are experiencing long-term and frequent anxiety. With the Qured app, you can see a doctor at a time and location of your choice. Download the app today -> onelink.to/jtygac.