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A Quick Tip for Reducing Anxiety

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If you’re feeling nervous about something coming up, such as speaking in public, meeting with your boss, or doing a karaoke number, we’ve found a great way to calm yourself down quickly.

Calming Down Can Be Tricky

If you’ve ever been in an argument with a friend or significant other, and they have told you to “calm down,” you’ve probably learned that that strategy is not particularly helpful. In fact, it may make you feel worse. The same seems to be the case when you tell yourself to relax or calm down before doing a stressful task. It doesn’t really work.

Luckily, there’s a technique you can use that actually will be effective, and it’s fast and easy to do.

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Studies Show That Reframing Your Anxiety Can Calm You Down

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In 2014, a series of studies was done by Harvard business professor, Alison Wood Brooks. She had study subjects engage in three different anxiety-inducing behaviors: public speaking, karaoke singing, and math problem solving.

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Just prior to performing the task, Brooks asked participants to say one of two statements. The statements were either “I am excited” or “I am calm.” In all three situations, people who chose to be excited, rather than trying to feel calmer did better in their tasks.

It turns out that simply reframing your anxiety, which can make you feel and focus on the negative, to excitement, which is positive, helps your brain relax and do better on what could be a stressful task.

So the next time you feel that heart-pounding, clammy palm anxiety, tell yourself out loud, “I am excited.” Then, step confidently into your task and watch how much better it goes.

Works Cited

  1. AW, B. (2014, June). Get excited: reappraising pre-performance anxiety as excitement. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1037/a0035325.

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