At some point in your life, you’re going to have to deal with feeling nervous. It’s a natural and unavoidable part of life that normally is nothing to worry about.
Problems can occur when nervousness becomes something more serious – anxiety. Constant feelings of anxiety and nervousness can harm your emotional well-being. Knowing the difference between feeling nervous vs anxious and learning how to deal with them can go a long way to improving your mental health.
What is Nervousness?
Nervousness is a response to a situation or event in your life where symptoms will likely disappear quickly once the stressor has gone. You may feel nervous due to an upcoming test, a date, a job interview or a sports event.
Nervousness isn’t solely a negative feeling, as people can be nervous before happy events such as weddings and award presentations.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a more severe form of nervousness. It is the feeling of anxiety, dread and general uneasiness you might feel when faced with a stressful situation in your life. It may become a mental health diagnosis as anxiety becomes less tied to a situation and a more chronic problem.
Anxiety will persist for days and months and can develop into different forms of anxiety disorders. People with Generalised Anxiety Disorder may worry about many different things in life. People with panic disorders will suffer from anxiety that leads to frequent panic attacks, whilst phobia disorders like agoraphobia mean they may be unable to go outside.
Nervous vs Anxious: Common Symptoms and Differences
When it comes to being nervous versus anxious, it’s important to know which one you suffer from. Being aware of the common symptoms of anxiety and nervousness and knowing the differences will help you as you can get the right form of help for your problem.
Symptoms of Nervousness:
- Dry mouth
- Going to the toilet more often
- Negative thoughts
Symptoms of Anxiety:
- Rapid breathing
- Memory problems
The Differences Between Nervous vs Anxious
The main difference between nervousness and anxiety is that the former is usually tied to an event, whilst the latter is unattached. Anxiety is more intense and longer lasting than nervousness and can have more physical symptoms.
Nerves can sometimes help you, providing motivation and enhancing performance, whilst anxiety will only inhibit you. Being nervous won’t stop you from living normally, whereas anxiety can keep you confined to your bedroom and often overwhelm you.
Nervous vs Anxious: Causes and Risk Factors
Many things can contribute to someone developing nerves or being more anxious. Every person is different but there are common causes and risk factors that increase the likelihood of someone developing anxiety or nervousness.
Situations can have a big effect on you being nervous or anxious. Having to speak in public, going to a social event, having a job interview, trying something new or undergoing an operation are all situations that may make you nervous and anxious.
Your environment can be a risk factor as well. Certain situations and environmental events can trigger anxiety and nerves as a reaction to things that may have happened in your past.
Some people can naturally be more nervous than others. If you are more critical of yourself and shy, then this may develop into your having anxiety problems. Shyness in your childhood is a risk factor for being nervous and anxious as it may make you more likely to suffer from distress when confronted with new situations in life.
Single events in your past can come back to haunt you through being nervous and anxious. Sometimes these feelings are a reaction to trauma suffered earlier in life and must be dealt with if you want to get better at managing anxiety and nerves.
Advice for Managing Nervousness and Anxiety
Nervousness and anxiety shouldn’t rule your life. With some simple changes, you’ll get loads better at managing anxiety and coping with nervousness. Your mental health is so important to living a fulfilling life, so you should prioritise it before your problems worsen.
When it comes to nervousness and anxiety, sometimes it can come down to the anticipation of a big event. If you have a big presentation at work or are going to a social event, then being prepared is your best defence. When you feel more prepared for something, you will naturally fear the situation less. With more preparation, you can put yourself in a more positive mindset, which is also a great weapon against nervousness and anxiety.
Talking to Someone
A great way to support yourself through bad bouts of anxiety is by talking to others. Sometimes, voicing the thing you are anxious or nervous about can be enough to lessen those negative feelings. People you trust can also relieve these feelings by talking the situation through with you, making you see that you are not alone in your struggle.
Mindfulness focuses on keeping you in the present and helping you get away from what’s going on inside your head. You can do this by practising meditation, working through breathing techniques and relaxation that allows you to slow down and release tension.
Simple changes can make big differences. Eating healthily and exercising regularly are proven to improve your emotional well-being. Eating right keeps your energy levels up, and exercising releases brain chemicals that improve your mood. Combining these steps with sleeping well and taking time to do things you enjoy can lead to improvement in how much nervousness or anxiety you feel.
If your anxiety is worsening despite these changes, then it might be time to reach out for professional help. With professional guidance, you can improve your symptoms with therapies such as CBT and group therapy.
Seeking Help and Support
Being nervous or anxious is an inevitable part of life. It becomes a problem when these feelings overwhelm you and interfere with your daily life. Recognising whether you are nervous vs anxious and dealing with these problems is vital to your mental health and welfare.