Dear Dr. Archer,
I'm not sure whether you can help me or not with this, but here goes. Every time I try to do something I get so nervous. I crack up; it feels like my brain goes everywhere.
This is affecting my future, as I'm only 20 years old and it's already affecting my life, like going on interviews, at work, anything I have to do in life.
Please, please get back to me, Dr. Archer. Kind regards,
It sounds like you're experiencing Anticipatory Anxiety, a condition where you get very nervous temporarily just before doing a specific thing. First this very anxiety can be the key to a great performance, presentation or effort because the very brain chemical that causes anxiety can sharpen the senses and enhance performance if it can be harnessed properly.
So, Mathew; there's no instant cure for this, but you can do things to take the edge off.
The brain has a very difficult time either thinking about two different things or feeling two different emotions simultaneously. So, if you can practice relaxation techniques perform other activities, the brain often ‘forgets’ about feeling anxious.
As you focus on something else, you'll override those nervous feelings. Try exercising, watch an interesting or funny movie, play a fast-paced video game, do a difficult puzzle, go out to eat with a friend or do anything you consider fun. Exercise is a fantastic remedy, especially if you can do it till you are fatigued.
As for anxiety reduction techniques, breathe in through the nose, hold the air in your lungs for a count of six, then slowly let the air out through the mouth. Repeat 10 times and while you are doing this try to blank out your thoughts and only focus on relaxation. It works!
One final thought is that anticipatory anxiety at its worst can be linked to panic attacks and if this is the case then an eval by a psychiatrist is definitely indicated. I wish you much luck, Mathew.