Sometimes no matter what you do, anxiety gets the best of you! Just because it won this round though, doesn’t mean it gets to control you.
Everyone is different, so take these suggestions lightly, but there are some things you can try to keep calm and carry on.
I’m often unable to sleep the night before a major presentation. I learned early on not to procrastinate about preparation, but my sleeplessness persists, and I am curious about the insomnia – what is it related to? Consciously, I have everything under control, so there must be a lot going on deep down, beyond the bounds of my awareness.
Here are some things I’ve been trying, to help keep myself calm:
1. Get to the Root of the Problem
An underlying theme in speaking or presenting is the limiting belief system – how you feel about yourself at the root can impede your ability to get up in front of others and open your mouth with confidence. My favorite book on interrupting this is Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.
Of course, consciously understanding the root doesn’t magically cure the anxiety, but it can give you the tools you need to work on it.
2. Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
This one works best when nobody is actually watching. Put your favorite track on and get moving. Jump around any old way you want (I dare you to try this without smiling).
3. Practice Sleep Hygiene
Another key strategy is to begin to wind yourself down for sleep by putting down your electronic devices (including the TV) and picking up a novel – something light and mindless (so not the book I recommended above 😛 ) I believe I have read all of the Jack Reacher books and highly recommend them.
If you’re a busy bee or a night owl, consider downloading F.lux for your computer. It works just like the iPhone’s Night Shift mode, by changing your computer light from blue (which suppresses melatonin) to orange.
4. Pay Attention to Food and Drink
Food can be a critical sleep inhibitor. Make sure that you eat well, keep the carbs down and stay away from sugary or caffeinated things after about 3PM (the perfect excuse to eat dessert at lunchtime.)
Chamomile tea is a great sleep inducer, but any warm, uncaffeinated drink can help. Warm drinks force you to slow your pace (think about how quickly you can drink a glass of water vs. hot tea), which can help you relax.
5. Put Your Ego Down
A lot of anxiety is caused by our ego. We really, really, really, want to impress ourselves and be the best, but sometimes you will operate at less that optimum capacity, and that’s ok. In fact, climbing down from that high horse could make you more open and receptive to others. Nobody wants, or expects, you to be perfect or have all the answers.
If the above sleep tips didn’t work and you’re fatigued, that’s ok too. Work with it. It might even take the edge off your anxiety. Try to meditate or contemplate in preparation. In that inner realm, imagine yourself bringing your best self to the experience. Then, once it’s all over, make sure to be kind to yourself, and take some time to catch up on those Zs!
The world is just waiting to engage with your Creative Genius self.