One of the most frequently asked questions I get asked is “how do I control my nerves?” Well, the great thing about us human beings is that we are all completely different. What might stress me out, might not stress you out, and how nerves affect me, might not affect you. So, there is no gospel according to nerves, but there are a few ways that we can help keep them under control.
Firstly, nerves are not completely bad! Ok, so they might make you a little dry, and uncomfortable, but you have to think positively about nerves. If you turned up and had no excitement or nervous energy, you would be flat as a pancake. Nerves help you stay focussed, and they can give you the edge you need to perform well. So, work with your nerves, they can really benefit you.
Secondly, nerves may affect you physically. This can be in many different ways, from a dry mouth, to slightly shaky hands, to breathing heavily, to getting a bit sweaty. The most important thing about these symptoms is to acknowledge them, and to make sure you are prepared for them. Don’t think of them as factors working against you, but think of them as your body trying to gear you up for a big event. I am sure Roger Federer has butterflies in his stomach before a big match. The important thing is to use it to your advantage. Try not to think about these things. If they are physical, say a dry mouth, drink something lemony, this helps produce saliva in your mouth. If it’s shaking of the hands, take some deep breaths, and stay away from the coffee! If you are getting a bit hot under the collar, go somewhere cool, get some fresh air. Everyone is different when it comes to this, you just need to think about what affects you, and then find a way to counter it. Breathing exercises are the best for controlling your heart rate. If you can get somewhere quiet, and spend 5 minutes taking some good long breaths, this will help you immensely. Try breathing in and out over 5 beats at crochet =60. Do this for a couple of minutes, and this will help get your heart rate down.
Most importantly though, don’t focus on your nerves. Think about all the hard work you have done preparing for your performance, and how much you want to show everyone how much you have improved, stay positive, nerves will just help give you that edge that you need to blow everyone away.