How to calm your nerves

Sunday, 26th January, 2014

Comfort zoneWorking towards goals and targets should involve stepping out of your comfort zone, otherwise there’s no point going for them.

When you step out of your comfort zone, your level of anxiety/nervousness rises, and that’s OK, because you should be in your Stretch Zone. This is where new learning takes place and new skills are developed.

These ‘healthier’ nerves can be useful; e.g. by providing the adrenaline to get you through a new situation. But if you find you’ve let them get out of control (and you’ve entered the Panic Zone) you need to find ways to reduce the nerves and build up your confidence in this new area.

“You can’t get rid of the butterflies, but you can teach them to fly in formation”


So, as you’re working on goals and targets this coming academic year, if you feel that your nerves are getting in the way of goal-achievement, try one or more of these strategies …

1. Imagine yourself at a train station, standing on the platform.

A train pulls up and each carriage represents your thoughts (‘train of thoughts’!!) … e.g. nervousness, anxiety, worry. The doors open; you remain on the platform. The doors close and the train leaves. Watch the train pull out of the station, taking ‘anxiety’ (for e.g.) with it. Watch until you can no longer see it. Repeat the process with other thoughts that are getting in the way of you managing your nerves.

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NB You can adapt this visualisation to suit you … I’ve recently taken up archery, so an alternative for me could be to ‘load’ each arrow with an unhelpful thought and send it flying towards a target!

What would work for you?

2. Go into new situations expecting that they aren’t going to be perfect

They’ll be the best you can make them at that moment in time.

Did you get on a bike and ride it for the first time without a wobble or two? No? So why do you expect that you need to totally succeed at any new experience without practice?

3. Talk yourself out of it!

The feelings of nervousness come about because of what you’re thinking.

For example … You’re about to deliver a staff meeting or INSET day for the 1st time, and you’re concerned about what others will think of your ideas/presentation style

Solution? Have a healthy conversation with yourself about this using the following format:

  • Notice the original, unhealthy thought when it happens
  • Decide to give yourself a better chance of success by changing this
  • Change it to something more useful … “I am prepared, I know my stuff and I have something valuable to share with my colleagues. My audience will include a mixture of colleagues in terms of their experience, so everyone will take something different away from the session. I accept this.”

Which of the 3 suggestions above are you most likely to try?

 What else have you tried in order to calm the nerves?

Tdebbie019 fhank you for taking time to read this blog.

I’m Debbie Inglis, a performance coach, mentor and trainer, working with Heads, Principals, School leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in you.

If you’re interested in my services, please get in touch, and you can read more here.