Being in a lift with a couple of other people and smelling a fart, checking your phone and seeing you have 10 missed calls from your mum, running to your charger to save your phone from dying at 1% battery or even going on your first date; everyone experiences nervousness to some degree. It is a natural bodily response. Being nervous is not pleasant at all, so why do our bodies put us through it?
Nervousness is never a nice feeling. ‘Butterflies’ in the stomach, increased heart-rate, sweating and dilated pupils are some of the symptoms of nervousness. This is all due to your body going into fight or flight. What exactly is this response and why does it occur?
Fight or flight is triggered when your mind believes you are under a threat. Once this response is triggered, many chemicals are released such as adrenaline, which does many things to your body. It is the main cause of the feeling of butterflies in your stomach. It helps redirect blood to the vital muscles to help you fight better, or run away (flight) faster . This effectively puts a halt to your digestive system as if you are under threat, it is not needed.
Fight or flight doesn’t only re-direct blood – but also causes the increase of your breathing rate to provide more oxygen to these muscles. As mentioned before the heart rate increases to get more of this oxygenated blood to these blood-rich muscles; thus helping the body react in order to survive. In general, everything in your body speeds up to help you react better to these threats… but is your body always under threat when this response is triggered?
No, your body is not always under threat; in fact, most of the time you are not under a threat – thus this response is mostly a false alarm. See, the fight or flight response is automatic . Whenever your brain senses you are under a certain threat – it responds by triggering it. The stronger the sensation of the threat, the more powerful the effects of fight or flight. This is why different people feel more nervous about different things – whether it be a first date or a job interview.
When you are under a real threat and your fight or flight is triggered – your body is doing the right thing. For example, hearing a burglar come into your house, or being chased by a bear in the woods. You may have even been chased by someone before at school for example; and as a result you have ran like you have never ran before! This happens because of all this blood pumping to your muscles so you have more strength. What can we do to stop being nervous when there is no reason to be?
How to prevent nervousness
No one wants to be too shy on a first date – it stunts how well you come across which could ruin the date overall. When shy, you aren’t yourself, therefore you would react differently to the way you would if you weren’t shy. There are many ways to overcome nervousness; one of the best ways is to learn from how some athletes deal with it .
Instead of trying to calm yourself down (which tends to make nervousness worse), mental imagery could really help. Athletes imagine themselves performing well or even winning before they actually play their game! Believe it or not, this stimulates neurons in the brain which give them confidence and motivation to deal with the game a lot better. It has been proven multiple times to be effective and is a practice that could train you to stop being shy about a certain something, completely!
Now that you know what causes nervousness and how to deal with it; next time you feel nervous about that first date; imagine yourself sat at the table with them having the best time of your life! Provided you keep your focus till the actual date, you will be surprised at how much fun you actually have.
If you have any questions, leave them below and until next time, take care.
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