What is it that you feel “nervous” about doing? For some it is speaking in public. For some it might be taking a test, competing in a contest, or beginning a new job. We feel “nerves” in different parts of our body. It might be butterflies in the stomach, a headache, faintness or dizziness, sweating, or increased heart rate. What we tell ourselves about these feelings can make a big difference.
Instead of trying to stay calm, what if we acknowledged and embraced these feelings as excitement rather than stress? In a study at the University of New Orleans researchers measured the heart rates of both experienced and rookie sky divers. The monitors showed that far from being calmer, the heart rates of the experienced divers were generally higher before and during the jump than those of the new jumpers. This was attributed to being pumped and excited rather than anxious about the coming jump.
Developing a new mindset about feeling excited rather than anxious can be helped by our own self talk. Concentrating on the gift we are about to give in a performance takes the place of worrying that we will make a mistake or embarrass ourselves. Focusing on the excitement of seeing how our training will pay off transforms jitters at the beginning of a race into energy. Thinking of our power to make things right overcomes the fear of speaking out.
Every challenge gives us a chance to decide how we will deal with it. It is a choice for us to make. Will we allow anxiety to paralyze us from doing our best, or will we choose to think that this is a chance to learn something new about ourselves and the hidden strengths that we have within? Feelings follow thoughts. It is worth taking time to rethink and form new mindsets.