How to Calm Nerves

Six Methods:Calming Your MindCalming Your BodyRedefining Your MoodEasing Your ConcernsCalming Through ConnectionChanging Your Health Habits

You know the feeling: you’re getting ready to give a speech in front of a class, going on a job interview, or meeting a blind date for the first time. You break into a sweat and feel like hyperventilating. We all hate letting our nerves get the best of us. Here are some ways to calm your nerves and regain your cool.

Method 1
Calming Your Mind

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    Make a list of things that cause you stress. Identify what is causing your nerves to fray. This can help you better manage your stress by developing strategies. Some of these stressors will be external (such as dealing with a looming deadline at work), while others will originate from within (like feelings of inadequacy).
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    Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, at any time. It involves slowing down to notice your surroundings, engaging your senses, and avoiding judgments. It is about truly experiencing the current moment, no matter how ordinary. Here are a few examples of simple mindfulness exercises:[1]
    • Pick a flower and examine it. Look at the shapes and colors of the petals. Smell the fragrance of the flower. Feel the ground under your feet and the wind around your face.
    • Eat a meal mindfully. Smell the aroma of your meal. Look at the steam rising and swirling. Feel the textures of your food and taste the depths of flavor.
    • Shower mindfully. Feel the temperature of the water. Listen to the sounds the water makes as it hits the floor. Inhale the steam and feel the water trickle off your back.
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    Try some meditation. Meditation helps to focus your thoughts on the present moment without worrying about the past or the future. Awareness of your breath and body posture centers you in the moment. There is no “right” way to meditate, but there are some basic practices you can try.
    • Locate a quiet, private place to meditate. Be sure that you can mediate uninterrupted for a minimum of ten minutes. Absolute silence is not necessary as ambient noises (traffic, people outside, barking dogs) are part of the present moment.
    • Find a comfortable position to rest. This may be sitting or lying down on the floor. Close your eyes or allow your eyes to gaze towards the floor.
    • Pay attention to your breath. Feel your breath fill your lungs as you slowly inhale. Push it out of your diaphragm as you exhale. Try counting your breaths backwards from ten to one. When you’ve reached one, begin at ten again.
    • If thoughts or feelings enter into your mind as you meditate, bring your attention back to your breath. Focusing on your breath will help keep you from getting caught up on any one thought.[2]
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    Try out a guided visualization exercise. Visualizing yourself in a comfortable and relaxing place, like on a tropical beach, can help calm nerves and improve your mood. A simple technique, it can be done anywhere and requires only your imagination. Here are some steps to guided visualization:
    • Find a comfortable position in a quiet, private place. Closing your eyes helps you block out your surroundings and focus on creating another space.
    • Take a few deep breaths. Begin to imagine yourself in a relaxing setting. This may be a warm beach, a lush tropical rainforest, or a gently rolling meadow.
    • Begin adding details to your scene. Visualize a path through the meadow or forest. What do the trees look like? Are there clouds in the sky? Can you feel the breeze on your skin? If you really immerse yourself into your scene, you will feel all the tension in your body - especially the shoulders, knees, and neck - start to disappear.
    • Maintain slow breathing. When you are ready to come out of your visualization, slowly begin to listen to the sounds of the room and street. Open your eyes slowly.[3]
    • Guided visualizations can be done using your own imagination, but you can also turn to audio recordings, a visualization instructor, or a script.

Method 2
Calming Your Body

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    Listen to some music. Calming classical music or jazz has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure and decrease stress hormones. There is evidence to suggest that, in therapeutic situations, music can be more effective at prompting relaxation than verbal stimuli (which is distracting) because music is processed primarily in the non-verbal sections of our brains. .[4]
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    Use aromatherapy to help you relax. Aromatherapy utilizes essential oils derived from various herbs, fruits, bark, and flowers. In doing so, aromatherapy can positively affect mood and emotions by making a connection between your olfactory senses and the limbic system in your brain.[5]
    • Lavender and lemon are two of the most popular oils used for relaxation and stress relief. Check online or talk to an aromatherapy specialist to determine which additional scents or blends might work for you.
    • In an aromatherapeutic massage, the essential oil is placed in “carrier oil”—an unscented or lightly scented oil—that is safe for skin application. As the massage oil is heated through the friction of the massage, the aroma of the essential oil fills the air.
    • Aromatherapy burners can be purchased and placed in any room in the house. Some are plugged into outlets, while others fit around the tops of lamp light bulbs. The heat from the bulb releases the calming essential oil scent into the room.[6]
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    Try yoga. Restorative yoga poses, such as the child’s pose or the corpse pose, may ease stress by helping to focus on the breath and promoting total physical relaxation. Power poses such as the eagle pose help ease stress by focusing the practitioner on balance while stretching tight shoulders and backs.[7]
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    Try dancing by yourself or with a partner. Dancing is another great way to release those endorphins and calm your nerves. Dance has many health benefits, including better physical fitness and increased memory (think about all those ballet positions!), but is also valuable as a social activity. Whether you are learning in a class or dancing with a partner, you are interacting socially, and endorphins and good mood tend to be shared among social dancers.[8]

Method 3
Redefining Your Mood

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    Start laughing. Take a few minutes to laugh either by yourself or with others. Whether it’s a short 2-minute video of a cat wearing pants or a feature length comedy, laughing has many health benefits:
    • Laughter stimulates many organs. When we laugh we take in more oxygen than usual, and that stimulates the heart, lungs, and muscles.
    • Laughing increases positive thoughts, leading to the release of stress and disease-fighting neuropeptides.
    • Laughter itself increases mood and leads to feelings of enhanced interpersonal connection when shared with others.[9]
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    Smile when you feel nervous. When you have negative or nervous feelings, it is hard to stop yourself from wallowing in them. Crack a big smile. It might be fake at first, but think about something that genuinely makes you smile, and keep working at it. A great big smile will momentarily trick your mind into thinking more positively, helping pull you out of a rut.[10]
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    Try power posing. Power posing is a way of holding your body to convey confident and dominant body language.[11] In turn, this can help make your mood more relaxed and confident.
    • For example, when speaking in a meeting, cross your arms across your chest and sit up straight. If you are closing a deal, show that you are engaged by standing, leaning forward, and resting your hands on a table while looking at the client or other individual.

Method 4
Easing Your Concerns

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    Be prepared and organized. Going into a job interview or a public speaking engagement can be a stressful time. It will be more stressful if you are unprepared and don’t know exactly what you’re going to say. Spend some time writing out your speech or writing down answers to typical interview questions.[12]
    • Get yourself organized before you go on an interview or give a speech. Know where you’ve put your resume and be ready to hand it out to the hiring manager.
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    Talk positively to yourself. Give yourself a vote of confidence by affirming your abilities. Say to yourself, “I can do this.” Tell yourself that you are confident, interesting and engaging. Giving positive reinforcement to yourself will also help block out negative thoughts that contribute to increased nerves.[13][14]
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    Don’t rush. Give yourself enough time to get to an interview or to a new school will help calm your nerves. Plan out your route and anticipate any delays. Leave a few minutes earlier than you think you need to, so that you’re not rushing in at the last minute with sweat drenching your brow.[15]
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    Demonstrate confidence. When you’re in a high-stress situation, you can easily fall prey to your nerves and start to question yourself. By appearing confident, you can trick others – and yourself – into feeling more confident.
    • If you feel your hands shake, try tightening your thigh muscles. This helps redirects energy away from your hands.[16]
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    Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Particularly in public speaking, audiences want to hear your human side. Relate some of your speech to your own vulnerabilities. This makes you more relatable to the audience.[17]
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    Know your audience. Being prepared for the right audience is a key to calming nerves in a job interview or speech. When your audience understands what you’re talking about, they will respond more positively, thus reducing your nervousness.
    • Do some research on your audience so that you know what they would like to hear. For example, find out who you will be interviewing with and what their positions are.[18]
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    Keep things in perspective. Yes, the interview, speech or competition is important to you. But it is likely not the only job interview you’ll ever have. Bring down the stress level by putting things in perspective.[19]
    • Don’t fret too much over mistakes that you make. Everyone makes mistakes, especially if they are new to something. If nothing else, these mistakes will be learning opportunities for you.
    • If you don’t get the job, consider the interview a practice run, and try again on another interview.

Method 5
Calming Through Connection

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    Call a friend. Talking about what is bothering you or causing you stress can help put the problem in perspective. Getting feedback from a friend or loved one can also normalize the issue, making you feel less alone. Be sure to choose the right person to talk to; if your stress comes from a family issue, perhaps talk to a close, trusted friend instead.[20]
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    Hug a pet. Simply playing with your dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine—nerve chemicals that elevate mood and create feelings of euphoria. Just a few minutes petting your animal can lower your blood pressure and heart rate.[21]
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    Visit a counselor. If your nerves and stress are causing you anxiety or you are having trouble managing your feelings, try visiting with a counselor to talk about what’s bothering you.
    • Check with your health insurance to see what is covered by your health plan.

Method 6
Changing Your Health Habits

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    Get some exercise. Going for a run, doing some jumping-jacks, and lifting weights all help relieve stress by releasing endorphins—brain chemicals that elevate mood, beef up our body’s immune systems, and ease feelings of physical pain.[22] Exercise also allows us to feel like we are in control of our situation, even though we may not be in control of things that cause us stress.
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    Eat nutrient-rich foods. Eating the right foods can not only make us feel good and satisfied, but can also help elevate our moods. When we are stressed our bodies secrete hormones that affect mood. Foods that contain vitamin B and folic acid help fight stress as those minerals are needed for the production of serotonin—our brain’s happy chemical. Try eating some of the following superfoods for a little mood boost:
    • Blueberries are high in vitamin C—a major stress-fighter. Try them in a smoothie, on top of some granola, or even on their own.
    • Gnawing on some raw almonds may help get some aggression out. They are also a rich source of vitamin B2 and E, which, like vitamin C has been shown to fight free radicals associated both with stress and disease.
    • Asparagus is high in both vitamin B and folic acid. This high-fiber green is great in salads and pastas, and makes a great side dish simply steamed with a squeeze of lemon and dash of salt.[23]
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    Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can cause your body to function less productively, and it can increase the possibility of anxiety or even panic attacks. Consume 9-13 cups of fluids per day. Some of this fluid can be attained from fruits and vegetables with high water content.[24]
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    Get enough rest. Your body needs time to restore itself and to allow muscles to fully relax. Getting enough sleep every night will fend off stress that leads to jangled nerves. Try for 7-8 hours of sleep every night.[25]
    • If you have trouble getting to sleep, try taking a warm bath before bed or listening to some calming music.


  • Most essential oils require that they be mixed with a carrier oil before exposure to the skin. Failure to do so can lead to a severe allergic reaction.
  • Young children, pregnant and nursing women, diabetics, and those with high blood pressure or heart issues should definitely consult an aromatherapy specialist before exposure as some oils can cause complications.

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Categories: Emotional Health