Mental Health

Calming Your Nerves: My Number 1 Strategy for Managing Anxiety

Before I was ever diagnosed with anxiety, I’ve always been a bit of a worrier. I remember when I was around 9 years old, my best friend at the time asked me to spend the day with her at her grandmothers charity shop. I said yes. But I desperately didn’t want to go. So I stopped eating. I was 9 years old. And I haven’t realised how momentous that was until now. Nervousness has never been my friend.

Calming Your Nerves

During my teen years, I never really experienced any anxiety or nervousness at all, on the surface. I was incredibly confident, loud and outgoing. A far cry from any of the words I’d use to describe myself now. But under the surface, I think I was still low key nervous about things going on around me.

And then as soon as my anxiety hit, I’ve experienced nervousness and anxiety like never before. I never in my life thought I’d feel as anxious about literally anything (I suffer with GAD, so I’m kinda low key anxious 24/7 about everything and nothing all at once).

These days, my senses are incredibly heightened. Sometimes, I’ll just wake up and something will feel “off”, which will have me feeling anxious for the entire day. But more so, actual events make me incredibly nervous. My boyfriend going on a plane. A doctors appointment. Even social events. It’s pretty exhausting.

I’ve had counselling and therapy throughout my anxiety journey. One thing my counselor said to me that’s always stuck was:

“You can worry about every potential scenario possible but the thing that actually happens will always be the thing that you didn’t think of”.

And for most cases, she was right. I learnt a lot from her. And I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the years of having anxiety too. But today I want to share my coping strategy for calming your nerves, a strategy which has really helped and after a bit of practice, can really help you too.

How do I deal with calming my nerves?

As well as practicing Yoga and meditation religiously over the last few years which has helped me massively, these other techniques have really proved beneficial and can help with calming your nerves quite a bit. Of course it’s not a miracle cure. And as always, if you’re really suffering, your GP should always be your first call.

Break it down

If it’s a particular event which has my nerves on edge, then breaking things down is a life saver. For example, when I had my hospital appointment for my colposcopy, my nerves were in tatters. So in order to cope (otherwise I would have literally had a breakdown), I broke down the day into sections.

So instead of looking at it as a whole, I broke it down into smaller parts. Part one was getting ready for the appointment. Two was making my way to the hospital. Part 3 was getting to the right department. And so on. A bit like how you might break down a particularly daunting work task into smaller tasks. This is exactly what I did.

Focus on one thing at a time

And within all those little sections of things you need to do in order to get through your nerves, really focus on one at a time. This bit is probably the hardest but after practice (which meditation, mindfulness and Yoga all come in particularly handy for) it does get easier and you can train yourself to zone in and block everything else out to a degree.

Remind yourself of what’s gone right

Often, when we’re in the midst of nerves, we look at the big picture and think what a disaster. Sometimes, the big picture can be detrimental to what we’re trying to achieve. So as well as breaking things down into more manageable tasks and focusing on those individual tasks, it can also really help to remind yourself of what’s going or gone well.

When we’re so nervous about something, we often forget to think about the positive because we’re so wrapped up with trying not to vomit or cry. But actually if you take a step back, the whole thing might not be as bad as what it feels like on the inside.

Going back to my example of my colposcopy appointment, if I successfully managed to get myself ready and get my bag together with everything I need without getting too worked up, that’s a bloody positive thing. If I safely made it to the hospital in one piece and on time then that’s amazing too.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the small stuff. The small achievements along the way to what originally seemed like the biggest, scariest and most daunting task of your life are what really matter. Because all those little things add up and suddenly, you’ve got through it. It sucked. But you did it.

What strategies do you use for calming your nerves? Will you take this with you and give it a go the next time something anxiety provoking comes up?

Calming Your Nerves

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Jenny in Neverland

Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.

117 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to try this approach as nothing else is working for me lately.

  2. Kayleigh Zara says:

    I don’t suffer with anxiety but this post is great, and so helpful, and from reading the comments it’s lovely that some people have found this so helpful! I do find that writing things down always really helps me if something is boring me. Thanks for sharing x

    Kayleigh Zara ๐ŸŒฟ http://www.kayleighzaraa.com

    1. Writing things down is SO helpful!

  3. Great post, with some helpful tips! I havenโ€™t posted in quite some time and would really appreciate your thoughts on my new piece โ€˜familyโ€™๐Ÿ˜Š

  4. Macey Gloria says:

    These are so helpful! I totally agree that focusing on what’s good is so beneficial at times xx

    twinklexthoughts.blogspot.com

    1. It sure is!

  5. elenxmai says:

    During my GCSE exams I became incredibly anxious all the time and Rescue Remedy was really helpful for me. I’m not entirely sure if it was a placebo effect or not but it gave me peace of mind to carry on as normal! Now I practice yoga and mindfulness to deal with the minor stresses of everyday life. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences Jenny! xx
    El // Welsh Wanderer

    1. Definitely not placebo! I loved that too!

  6. For my anxiety, what helps is taking a bit of time away from people and break my task to bite size pieces ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Yeah spending some time alone massively helps me too. Sometimes constantly chatter can be too much.

      1. Omg, yes. The massive amount of chatter and cluttered thoughts makes me just crave for a bit of alone time.

  7. Great Post. I suffer from anxiety since the birth of my 3rd son. I think it developed on from pnd. I’m going to refer back to this when I’m feeling really bad.

    1. Sounds like you could be right there. Maybe itโ€™s worth talking to someone about it.

  8. I really appreciate the tips. I think the one I like best is thinking about the positive in the midst of what your mind will automatically deem as a negative. Itโ€™s a fight and struggle everyday. Iโ€™ve also found comfort in a bible verse Philippians 4:6,7 not to be anxious over anything but to give it to God through prayer and supplication. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Chloe Chats says:

    Great post Jenny, I find breaking things down really helpful for me. I suffer with anxiety as well, and have done since I was a little girl and growing up it got worse and worse for me, but for the last few years I’ve been trying so hard to cope with it better. I get days where I’m anxious to go to work and I end up going through a bit at a time, getting ready to go, the walk there, the first hour.. and so on and that really helps calm me down. Thanks for sharing!

    Chloe xx
    http://www.chloechats.com

    1. Really glad to hear that technique works so well for you!

  10. I do a similar breakdown, but I also research where I’m going to see if I can figure out what types of lights/noises/levels of peoples I can expect and try to anticipate if sensory issues are going to become problematic on top of anxiety and what I can do to get around that.
    Practical example would be when I was waiting at the dental phobia clinic (which always runs late) and in the adjoining health centre they were doing some work with one of my specific bad noises and I couldn’t block it out, so I went and sat in the car and Dad queued for me and got me when the dentist was ready.

    1. Thatโ€™s a good idea!

  11. This is so helpful, especially as I suffer with anxiety too. I totally agree about reminding yourself of what’s gone right. It’s so easy to let things build and build and for it to feel like everything is and always has been a disaster but when we stop and think, there can be so many good things to be found xx

    Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

    1. Totally agree!

  12. Focusing on thing is something I’m trying to do more often as at times I worry about everything and anything while doing anything.

    Thanks for sharing this post, I greatly needed it.
    Loren | Plaid & Sugar

    1. Sounds like me too!

  13. Reminding myself of what has gone right is definitely something I’m doing more of lately, it does help!

    Love, Amie โค
    The Curvaceous Vegan

    1. It sure does!

  14. Focusing on what’s done, what went right, and tackling one thing at a time are my 3 most important goals when I feel like I’m getting overwhelmed with panic and anxiety. It helps a lot to do one thing at a time, to focus on the small things I CAN do instead of the big things I have no control over ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. That sounds like an excellent idea!

  15. Reading really helps my anxiety x

  16. I love that you mentioned on the list of the importance of reminding ourselves of what has gone right. I think that is so important. sometimes we loose sight of our progress cause we are paying to much attention to our current circumstance.

    1. We really do!

  17. I try to focus on the small bits I can control, and celebrate those small victories. I meditate too, and read books all to calm the mind x

    1. I wish I could read when I’m anxious but I just can’t focus!

      1. My daughter is the same, she does audible books

    2. Yep I totally agree! That’s really good advice about breaking something down into small parts – I’ll suggest that to my partner. I find what helps is to plan and write stuff down – if I’m anxious about an upcoming project, for instance, I’ll spend time working out a plan and then once it’s clearer in my head my anxiety eases.

      1. Such a good idea. I always have plans and go through things in my head over and over so I feel more assured about the situation x

  18. Nicola Niemc says:

    Like you say, anxiety is so exhausting! I think nervous exhaustion is really just five percent nerves, and the other ninety-five percent is the exhaustion.
    But breaking a problem or event down is such a good idea. When I’m stressed about something, I struggle to remember what I actually need to do. So just planning one step at a time helps me cope with it, one step at a time. Break the problem down before it breaks you down!

    1. I totally agree. I’m really anxious about something this week and I’ve been exhausted for about a week with anxiety and nerves.

      1. Nicola Niemc says:

        Oh crikey, I hope whatever it is you’re particularly anxious about is out of the way soon ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ I try to remember that Chinese saying, ‘this too will pass’.

  19. Gosh I needed this. As soon as anything that I perceive as ‘wrong’ happening my mind instantly jumps to 1001 worse case scenarios and it’s very hard for me to think of anything positive when I’m trapped in that mode. I really need to start doing things like you mentioned such as breaking things down and trying, really trying, to look at the positives!

    1. Oh gosh I feel you! I often do that too!

  20. I think appreciating and loving all the little things is one of the best ways to stay calm and focused. It feels so good to finish something and put a little tick next to it on a list.

    When I start to get nervy, walking away and focusing on something else is usually a big help. It is easy to think of how something can go wrong and reminding oneself of the things that have gone right is a great way to find courage.

    1. Very true!

  21. Thats a super good one! Right now iโ€™m starting to get anxious over my week trip at my boyfriendโ€™s parents (first meet AND first plane trip!) โ€” iโ€™ll be sure to practice that advice, thank you!

    1. Ah hope the trip goes well!

  22. kattieh says:

    I think breaking your day down into sections is a really good thing to do. It seems to make the day more bearable in a way!! I started struggling with anxiety last year, so I got really into doing a bit of meditation or exercise (like going for a walk on the beach). Since then, itโ€™s got better but there are still days where I just feel like my heart is racing! These are really good tips!!

    1. So glad you found them helpful.

  23. Anxiety is such a tough thing to manage. My new technique is really simple: I remind myself that I am not going to die. Seems kind of obvious but if you are an anxiety sufferer then you know how your brain leads to the worst case scenario!

    1. That’s a great idea and so simple.

  24. These are great tips, Jenny. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I was also diagnosed with GAD in my late teens and have found breaking tasks down to be really beneficial.
    .
    I struggle to go out on my own much (history of agoraphobia) but I’m starting to make progress, so I’m going to try incorporating more meditation into my routine and see how I do. xoxo

    1. I struggle with that too so I can relate!

  25. Life as The Lonsdales says:

    A very helpful and insightful blog post. As someone who also suffers from anxiety and how to handle it I will definitely be referring back to this blog post the next time I feel anxious. Thanks for sharing x

    1. Hope it helps!

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