top of page

How To Not Look Nervous

When you're in school, at work, and just living life in general, you can experience a lot of stressful situations. Stress is a common experience in life, and alongside it comes nerves. It is important to find ways to control your nerves when the situations call for it or at least appear at ease. First, to understand how to not look nervous, it is crucial to know the common cues that may cause you to appear nervous. The first big giveaway is a stiff body posture. This indicates discomfort and an inability to relax. To Avoid this, look out for small habits, such as grabbing your clothing, like your sleeves or pant leg, shrugged shoulders, and avoiding eye contact. When you avoid physical indications of nerves, you can begin to look at the part. Even if you are still filled with nerves, take ease in knowing that you do not appear as nervous as you may be. Techniques for working on such habits may include, opening up your posture by almost pushing your chest out and shoulder back, maintaining this posture can allow you to focus your energy away from fidgeting and stiffness. Other common indicators of nerves are playing with your hair and biting your nails. These as well can be improved over time by honing your focus on the conversation and opening your posture. It is common to feel a need to do something with your hands, if this is true for you, try crossing your hand in your lap or holding them close to your side or on the counter. While you still may fidget, it’s best to find the best alternative while working on improving. If you struggle with eye contact due to social anxiety, it may be a long process for improving, but not impossible! Some of the most significant benefits to making eye contact are you become more memorable, appear more believable and intelligent, other cues become less noticeable, and you display confidence. Aim for relaxed eye contact, meaning you do not need to hold eye contact for the entirety of the conversation, but for the large majority. Once habits form, it becomes difficult to break them, although over time you can improve your professionalism.


Appearing the part is important, but it is a lot easier to appear calm if you aren’t continuously nervous with racing thoughts. Thinking calmly begins with accessing what is making you nervous. Once you identify what is causing the nerves, begin walking through your thinking attempting to only allow yourself to have a calm and positive perspective. Remember things appear a lot more important in the moment than they will be in the long scheme of things. Avoid rapid breathing by taking big deep breaths in and exhaling as long as possible. If appropriate, close your eyes to help bring yourself back down to a calm level. For very visual people, visualization can be a powerful tool. Imagine a successful outcome to your current situation, and create plans for alternate outcomes that still allow for success. For example, if you are nervous about an upcoming exam. While you are studying, if you notice your nerves begin to build, take a step back and imagine how it would feel to get a nice grade. Then once you start to relax, imagine how even if you don’t get the best grade, how can you do better in the future, or how can you make the situation better. Study more? Contact your instructor for one on one discussion and questions. Talk to your parents about how you feel about the course. Whatever it may be, the goal is to avoid stress and guilt. It will become nearly impossible to overcome your nerves in a situation if you are mad at yourself for being nervous. Accepting the nerves and knowing that it is okay to have those feelings can allow you to begin the process of improvement.

If working on your habits, and reevaluating your mindset is still not helping to alleviate nerves or at least a nervous appearance, it may be time to explore de-stressing techniques. First, you have to make sure that you are taking care of yourself physically before attempting to make mental improvements. Nerves can build up a lot of tension in the body. Take time throughout your day to stretch. With a primary focus on your back and neck. You only need about 5 minutes to stretch so possibly consider when you wake up, or maybe on your lunch break, or just any free time. Once you relieve your physical tensions you are more able to fully relax. Foam rolling is also a great option for relieving tension in your muscles daily. Other common techniques to try to counteract your nerves could be simply taking a hot bath, smelling essential oils, or spending time with your pets. While you take self-care time, it is important to keep a healthy, open mindset about your work and responsibilities. Allow yourself to enjoy the time you are taking, and avoid feeling guilty, or else taking the time can be counterintuitive. Almost everyone experiences nerves regularly. You are not alone. Take the time to take care of yourself so you can perform to the best of your ability, and continue forward.