About Anxiety
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How to Overcome Nervousness

Denise Griswold, MSc, LCAS
How to Overcome Nervousness

Nervousness by itself is not considered a serious problem. Many people suffer from nervousness at some point or another - some even from irrational nervousness. Being nervous is a part of being human, and recognizing that the world does have its dangers.

But when that nervousness becomes overwhelming, never seems to go away, impacts your personal life, or is accompanied by severe physical symptoms, that's when you may need some type of treatment.

When is Nervousness Something More?

Generally, nervousness refers to fearful thoughts with basic physical symptoms. In the case of an anxiety disorder these symptoms are present without any true cause for fear and concern. To be clinically diagnosed as an anxiety disorder these symptoms must cause some form of impairment. 

If your nervousness qualifies as an anxiety disorder - or even if it doesn't, but it at times affects your quality of life every day - there are countless ways to cope that can assist in reducing your nervousness.The following are all effective ways to combat nervousness and anxiety that can be done without a professional’s guidance. 

5 Ways to Stop Nervousness

Exercise

The most important tool for reducing nervousness is exercise. Exercise is more than just something you do for your own physical fitness. It allows you to easily reduce your nervousness because it increases production of relaxing neurotransmitters while simultaneously burning hormones caused by stress and tiring the muscles so that anxiety symptoms are less severe. Exercising can have one of the largest impacts on overall levels of distress. 

Desensitization

Are you someone that is nervous in specific situations? For example, are you nervous when you talk to someone of the opposite sex? You can try desensitization. Desensitization is the act of reducing the amount of nervousness you experience with each part of an activity until the activity itself doesn't cause anxiety.

For example, let's say you are a young man that wants to talk to single women, and you find yourself very nervous attempting to talk to women. You can combat your fears by:

This example may not be relevant to your situation, but the technique works for any type of general or specific nervousness, provided you can pinpoint the causes and triggers of your nervousness. Psychologists use this type of technique on anxiety. With panic attacks, for example, a psychologist may have you get used to panic attack triggers one by one so that they aren't able to cause another panic attack to occur. It's a very similar process.

Journal Writing

Unexplained nervousness or nervous thoughts that cannot leave your head may be the result of thought suppression - the tendency for thoughts you try to get rid of to come back more frequently than if you hadn't tried to get rid of the thoughts at all.

One strategy for reducing the effects of thought suppression is to accept the thought and get it out on paper. Journal writing provides a mental outlet. Your brain learns that it doesn't need to focus on the thought anymore because you've written it down in a permanent place. This is a two-step process though: You need to both accept the thought and not care if you have it, and also write it out in a journal as though saving the thought for later.

Sleep

Sleep deprivation may not seem like an anxiety issue, but it has a profound effect on nervousness. In fact, sleep debt (regular loss of sleep over time) can actually cause significant physical and mental symptoms that may lead to profound nervousness and stress. It's been proven that significant time without a full night's sleep increases anxiety.

Remember, anxiety and stress actually change thought processes. So when you're nervous because you're sleep deprived, you may have no idea that your nervousness is unnatural. It is likely to feel completely natural. Try making sure that you get more sleep and see if a full night's rest for multiple nights in a row reduces your nervousness.

Start Strong, Stay Busy

Nervousness is also something that tends to develop over time. Unfortunately, many people unwittingly give their nervousness time to grow, because they let stress convince them that they need "time alone for their thoughts."

For better or worse, your thoughts are your enemy when you're nervous often. You need to make sure that you don't let yourself get taken over by these thoughts. As soon as you wake up (or as soon as you're about to engage in the activity that makes you nervous, like public speaking), get busy and stay busy. Keep your mind distracted and occupied. You'll find that as long as you're engaging in healthy activities, the break you get mentally will reduce your anxiety in the future.

Learn to Control Your Nervousness and Anxiety

While the above tips can provide a great deal of help for those suffering from nervousness, understanding your anxiety further and taking steps to learn proper relaxation/coping strategies are still very important.

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