Controlling Social Nervousness

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • Here's a scenario that anyone who feels nervous in social situations will recognize:


    As soon as I enter the room I feel nervous;

    I tense up, feel clammy, my throat goes dry, I find it hard to speak;

    This makes me even more nervous.


    You then try to control the situation by trying out ways to stop feeling nervous. Maybe you try to think calming thoughts, or pretend you're not really in the situation, or perhaps you give yourself a good mental ticking-off for being so stupid and inadequate? These strategies will very often lead to failure. You know you're trying to trick yourself. It hasn't worked before, so why should it this time?

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    Nervousness is all about the fear of being unable to control the impression you make. The mind and body work in concert, so in such situations it can actually be easier to focus more attention on the way you behave. Your thought process will then synchronize with your behavior and things will begin to feel better. So, let's address the scenario in a different way:


    As soon as I enter the room I feel nervous;

    So I focus on my behavior by making myself breathe deeply and slowly and I focus attention on relaxing my muscles, especially around my neck and shoulders.

    When I talk, I consciously lower the tone of my voice a little. I find by doing this I begin to feel less nervous and I act far more naturally.


    This is a tried and tested technique for people who struggle in social situations. Of course not everyone who feels socially nervous falls into the social phobia category. Many people do struggle or fear specific social situations, such as giving a presentation, going for an interview, or giving a speech, where they become the center of attention. Nerve calming measures are pretty universal in their approach because they work. It can also be helpful to practice social situations that make you nervous and to run through the issues and your response to them.


    If you've not tried the techniques before you have nothing to lose. I'd also like to know whether you've developed your own approach to dealing with social nerves? Maybe you've been advised to imagine the interview panel with no clothes on? Maybe you use a tablet to calm the shattered nerves? Why not pass a comment?


Published On: August 20, 2011