If you sometimes struggle to bat away your worries, we’ve got a 10-step guide to help you cap your nerves thanks to Dr Lynda Shaw…
1 Remember you’re amazing!
Many believe there’s a direct correlation between self-confidence and anxiety. An imbalance in either area can have a direct effect on the other. Therefore, it’s important for you to recognise how fabulous you are (because, you really are fabulous!). “Recognise the things you’re good at and the things that are good about you,” Dr Shaw said. We know this can be tricky but we’ve found out tips to help with that, too. “Listen to and take note of compliments that others give you for inspiration. And, don’t forget to compliment them back, you never know, they may be anxious or lacking confidence, too.”
2 Snooze it off
“Many anxious people suffer from a lack of sleep,” Lynda told us – and it’s no surprise! When your mind is whirring with worries, not even the softest of pillows nor the most melting of mattresses can tempt your mind to switch off and allow you to settle into an energising slumber. However, there are small things you can do to encourage the cogs of your mind to wind down. “Having a warm bath before bed will not only physically and emotionally relax your body it can help you sleep,” Dr Shaw advised.
But why is it helpful? Well, research has proved that when you step into a cool room after your bath or shower, your body temperature drops which tells your internal system that it’s time to rest.
3 Swot up
We’re not sure about you, but the unknown has a nasty habit of encouraging our anxieties to creep up on us. The only way to combat this is to arm yourself with knowledge. “Try to make sure you are as well informed as possible,” Dr Shaw suggested. If it’s an interview you’re nervous about, ask the interviewee or HR representative what you can expect and any questions that are puzzling you.
4 Brace yourself
Following on from point three, the next step is to be prepared. “I recommend that people follow the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘I do the very best I know how, the very best I can and I mean to keep doing so until the end’,” Dr Shaw continued. “Whether you’re anxious about a test, a speech, an interview or a business meeting, the best way to show confidence is to be prepared.”
5 Speak out
A lot of the time, our anxieties are unfounded. While this doesn’t make them any less real, it does mean that voicing them can alleviate the stress. Think of your anxiety as a big bar of chocolate (we know it’s an odd analogy but bear with us). Break down all the elements that are making you feel nervous, and imagine each as a chunk of the chocolate. Now, snap them away one by one and share them with a loved one. You see, like a bar of chocolate, once you’ve spoken the issues through you’re likely to find your fears melt away!
6 Stay Positive!
“Always believe you can do something,” smiled Dr Shaw. “Visualise yourself doing what you need to do, and doing it well, to gain confidence. This is something that many sports psychologists do to help our greatest athletes.”
7 Get physical
Ok, so we’re going to suggest a little eight-letter word now but before you skip to the next step give us a minute to explain. Exercise can be a great aid to anxiety, honest. “Unused muscles can become tense and cause symptoms of anxiety,” Dr Shaw told us. “So make sure you take a little time to exercise. Not only will it reduce your anxiety and prevent panic attacks you can stay fit at the same time.”
8 Let it go
We’re all human; you understand that, we understand it and everybody you come face to face with will, too. We all make mistakes and none of us are perfect. Before you allow worries of being asked a question and not knowing the answer, or getting something wrong, to fill your hear, remind yourself of this well-know fact. “Just be honest and say you don’t know the answer but you will find out,” suggested Dr Shaw. “Than make sure you do! No one knows everything about anything, so you will appear confident and in control if you give an accurate answer – even if it is a day late.”
9 Be yourself
Everybody is different. We all feel differently and react differently, so it’s important that we give ourselves a break and consider our individual needs. “Don’t compare yourself to others,” Dr Shaw confirmed. “When setting your goals and aims think about your abilities and not what others can do and are doing. Be aware of the reasons why you’re anxious or lack confidence. Write down a list of obstacles, then think positively about how you will overcome them.”
10 Breathe steadily
If we were to ask you to act out the feeling of anxiety, the chances are most of you would pretend to struggle for breath. Therefore, we’re all familiar with the idea that when a person is anxious or stressed they may begin to breathe a little faster than normal. “This gives the illusion of needing more oxygen,” Dr Lynda explains, “but in actual fact they are getting too much, thus leading to dizziness, weakness and more.”
Keep this in your mind if you find your breathing becomes heavier, stay calm and try to relax yourself. “Try to control your breathing by taking a long deep breath in through your nose and slowly breathing back out again through your mouth.”