Everyone experiences anxiety or nervousness at times. When you face a challenge, feelings like these can arise. They may occur when there is a lot of pressure to perform well. They may happen when you are afraid of making a mistake, looking bad, or being judged.
These are usually not dangerous situations. However, the brain reacts as if they are.
For example, you may be nervous before taking necessary tests or exams. You might feel anxious when it’s your turn to speak in class. These feelings are unpleasant, but they are manageable.
Instead of wanting to avoid things that make you anxious, confront them. You might be surprised at what you’re capable of. Here are five strategies for learning to cope with anxiety:
1. Begin with a growth mindset
Some people have a predetermined mindset. “This is how I am,” they may think. I get nervous before giving a presentation in class. As a result, I do not raise my hand.” People with a fixed mindset do not believe that things can change. They think that they are who they are. However, brain science has demonstrated that you can teach your brain new ways to respond. People with a growth mindset are aware of this. They understand that they can improve at almost anything with effort and practice. This includes how to deal with anxiety.
2. Take note of how anxiety affects you
Learn about the physical sensations that accompany anxiety. Make a mental note of them. Do you get ‘butterflies’ when you’re nervous? Are your palms sweaty? Hand tremors? Understand that these feelings are a normal part of the body’s response to a challenge. They are not dangerous. They gradually fade away. Try to notice the feelings without becoming upset that they are present the next time they occur. Accept their offer. Allow them to be present. You are not required to push them away. But you don’t have to give them your undivided attention. Check to see if you can put them in the background.
Take several slow breaths. You could breathe in for four counts and out for six counts. You could count four or five breaths with your fingers. Taking a few slow breaths does not alleviate anxiety.
However, it has the potential to reduce it. It can help you focus less on anxious thoughts and feelings. It can assist you in resetting and getting ready to move forward.
4. You should talk yourself through it
When you’re nervous, it’s natural to tell yourself, “I can’t do this.” “What if I screw this up?” Instead, tell yourself something that will give you the courage to face the situation: “I can do this.” “It’s OK to be anxious.” I can do it anyhow.”
5. Face the situation instead of waiting for the anxiety to pass
You may believe you will postpone speaking in class until you no longer feel nervous about it. But it doesn’t work like that. It is facing the anxiety that allows you to manage it. It is referred to as exposure.
It takes time and patience to learn to cope with anxiety. Most importantly, it takes practice and the willingness to confront situations that cause stress. It all starts with a small step. The more you practice, the better you will become at dealing with anxiety.