How to Stop Being Nervous and Become Calmer

It seems natural to worry in difficult situations – before an exam or a move. But what if there is no reason, it seems that nothing serious has happened, but you’re always worried and nervous? 

Why We Worry

Anxiety is a natural response of our nervous system to external stimuli. Moreover, stress and anxiety are considered our defense mechanism. This response to a stimulus helped our ancestors to survive: encountering a wolf = stress, we must either run away or kill it = a defensive reaction. This was the case as long as we lived in a world of immediate results. In other words, as long as every decision we made carried a benefit right here and now. For example, if we were hungry (stress), went hunting, killed the animal, got food (stress was over).

But now we live in a world of deferred results, that is, our current decisions don’t benefit us immediately, but are focused on future achievements: education for work, sports for health, investments for income. It turns out there is more uncertainty – we don’t know for sure if the investment pays off, if education brings good jobs in the future, and if playing at Woo Casino brings a jackpot. At the same time, the protective mechanism – stress – has remained in place, while the time to eliminate it has increased.

Stress is related to the fact that our bodies have not kept up with the scientific and technical progress of humanity. Over the past 200 years, our view of the world has changed beyond recognition. Think about it: if you had told them about wireless internet, laptops, and space exploration at the beginning of the 20th century, nobody would have believed you. And if you had tried to do this in the Middle Ages, you would surely have been burned for heresy. The structure of the human nervous system and brain is exactly the same as it was 200 and 500 years ago.

Our level of stress is objectively influenced by:

  • Changing conditions of existence. In the beginning, the level of physical activity and the neuro-psychological stress necessary for survival matched each other, but now the stress is much greater.
  • Change of information environment – every decade doubles the amount of information accumulated before. It turns out that the rate at which information arrives doesn’t match the biological capacity to absorb it, which is exacerbated by the time deficit.
  • Urban population growth. Higher density of human contacts and degree of tension between people.
  • Increased noise level has a negative impact on our psyche and organism as a whole.
  • Bad ecology. High levels of carbon monoxide in the inhaled air reduces gas exchange of the brain and its efficiency.

But even so, some of us tend to worry about anything and everything and are ready to start on the spot, while some of us remain calm as an elephant, even in stalemate situations. This is due to differences in how our nervous system reacts to excitement. There are two types:

  • Strong – high endurance and performance. The CNS can withstand strong or prolonged excitement without going into a state of inhibition.
  • Weak – low endurance and capacity for work. The CNS is characterized by hypersensitivity and can respond to the smallest impulses.

The strength of the nervous system is an innate indicator, and, incidentally, is the basis for dividing people by temperament. Thus, the sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic have a strong nervous system, and the melancholic – weak.

The subjective reasons can also include:

  • Hyperresponsiveness.
  • Overwork.
  • Psychological trauma from childhood – excessive parental care or, on the contrary, frequent stress.

What Stress Can Lead to

Not all anxiety is bad: in some situations, it may even be useful to be nervous. For example, before an exam. At this moment, the body mobilizes all its forces, which allows you to concentrate faster, remember the material and perform the task better. Such mobilization allows you to better cope with the extreme situation. Such stress is also called positive or eustress, and it’s always:

  • Short-term.
  • Improves performance and attention. 
  • Easily tolerated physically and psychologically.
  • Ends with relaxation and positive emotions.

Of course, even acute short-term stress does not always have a positive effect and a stimulating effect: a person, on the contrary, may fall into a stupor or panic. And yet, when the threat passes, the body quickly recovers.

But too frequent and chronic stress, when the body is in constant tension, is detrimental not only for the nervous system. The human body produces a sharp release of hormones, due to which it experiences not only a psychological, but also a constant physiological load.

This kind of nervous tension is also called distress, and is characteristic of it:

  • A chronic or acute form of course.
  • Reduction of work capacity and concentration of attention.
  • Loss of the ability to adapt to the outside world.
  • Physiological malaise on the background of negative emotions.
  • Development of somatic and mental diseases.

The negative impact of stress extends to all aspects of human activity: emotions, behavior, thinking abilities and physical health. But because people react differently to stressful situations, the symptoms and degree of severity may differ. The state of stress can be determined by:

Vascular symptoms: headaches, shivering, sweating, cold extremities, rapid fatigue;

tachycardia and chest pains, tension in other muscles.

  • Gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Eating disorders resulting in weight loss or gain.
  • Colds and infectious diseases – resulting from a decrease in immunity.
  • Emotional problems: depression, anxiety, withdrawal, inability to relax.
  • Cognitive problems: forgetfulness, poor concentration.
  • Sleep problems.

There can also be more serious consequences: cardiovascular, nervous system and gastrointestinal diseases, immunodeficiency and other unpleasant things.

How to Get Out of Stressful Situations

If you can’t get your thoughts together and stop feeling nervous before an important event – an exam, a presentation, a job interview – or, conversely, after it, you can use several proven ways:

  • Breathing exercises – when we are nervous, we breathe with our chest, but only breathing with the diaphragm, i.e. the stomach, helps calm the heartbeat and relieve the jitters. It’s necessary to take a slow breath and then slowly exhale. Exercise should be repeated several times, until the heartbeat is not equalized.
  • Affirmations – repeat to yourself or aloud phrases that lift your spirits and show high competence. For example, I’m smart, I can do it, I’m happy, I’m healthy, I’m calm, etc.
  • Visualization – this method is similar to the previous one, only here you need to imagine a picture of how you successfully cope with the event that makes you nervous. If it’s a presentation, you can imagine how you confidently and clearly tell all the points, you get a clap at the end and all the questions afterwards turn out to be easy.
  • Discharge – if the situation doesn’t require an immediate solution, you can go privately and just vent your negative emotions: cry or shout, and then deal with the problem.
  • Change of focus – shift your attention to other tasks that do not cause you so much stress, deal with them, and then return to the problematic issue – it will be easier to solve it in a calm state.

Everything is clear with short-term stressful situations, but overstress can also be permanent. In this case, you will not be able to cope with the problem with one-time exercises, you also need more long-term solutions.

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Interested in sponsored content? CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

What are you looking for?