A little technique called ‘anxiety reappraisal’ could totally transform the way you tackle anxiety-inducing, adrenaline-pumping situations for the better.
Whenever you feel nervous, say these three words: ‘I am excited’.
Forget trying to calm yourself down: if you want to succeed, simply channel all that amped-up nervy emotion into excitement – ride the buzz but reframe it as something stimulating: excitement. It’s easier and far more affective than trying to mellow out.
So next time you’re heading into a job interview, or about to speak in public, convince yourself you’re excited. Just do it. Your mind is mighty. Trust it.
Olga Khazan recently explored this theory (which has been proven effective in numerous studies and situations) in a piece for The Atlantic, using the research of Alison Wood Brooks, a professor at Harvard Business School who has analysed the affects of reframing nervousness as excitement.
This is how it works: anxiety and excitement are both aroused emotions (they make your heart beat fast and hotwire your brain) but excitement is positive and anxiety is negative. So mastering this switch puts you in a winning mind frame.
This switch is also easier to pull off than trying to dial down your emotions and achieve calm. Calmness is a positive emotion too but it’s a suppressing emotion, so it’s easier to trick your brain into being excited than calm.
Brooks explained that the excitement trick works when it comes to improving performance because it takes you out of ‘threat mindset’ and puts you in ‘opportunity mindset’. You stop catastrophising and fixating on potential failure, and instead focus on positive outcomes and feel upbeat.
It's definitely worth a try.