Signs of Nervousness & Nervousness Body Language

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Everyone gets nervous from time to time. Maybe you don’t like public speaking. Or maybe large groups or unfamiliar people make you feel uncomfortable. It is possible that any amount of attention on you may cause nervousness. Whatever the cause may be, nervousness happens to everyone in different situations. In order to combat these nerves, however, you must first understand which situations make you nervous and what signs of nervousness you exude. 

Nervousness is often closely associated with nervousness body language. These are different signs, movements, or visual cues that a person will give off, more than likely unknowingly, when they are nervous. This is directly related to the adrenaline that our bodies naturally produce when we are nervous. When there is excess adrenaline in the body, it is common for our bodies to try and find a “release” for this build-up of energy in any self-soothing manner possible. Oftentimes, we don’t even realize we are exuding these signs of nervousness. It is just our body’s natural, unconscious way of relieving the nerves we are having. 

The more aware you are of your signs of nervousness, the easier it will be to combat them. That’s why the Center for Hyperhidrosis has listed 12 of the most common signs of nervousness. 

Signs of Being Nervous

As mentioned, there are many different signs of being nervous and these signs of nervousness and nervousness body language are different for everyone. It is important to figure out what your personal signs of being nervous are. This list of 12 of the most common signs of nervousness may help you to get an idea of what your cues are. 

1. Pacing

Pacing is a very common sign of being nervous. This can include pacing around the room when giving a presentation or speech, or general pacing because of nerves. If you find yourself wandering around to calm your nerves, then you have discovered at least one of your body’s ways of trying to release some of the built-up adrenaline running through your body. 

2. Fidgeting

Fidgeting is small movements made by the body, particularly the hands and feet, in times of nervousness. It is one of the most common nervousness body language cues. Fidgeting can be something that people do in big moments of anxiety, but it is also something that is often done in anticipation of moments of discomfort. Remember how popular fidget spinners were? While they boomed into a fun toy that almost everyone had, they started out as a small tool to preoccupy your hands and avoid excessive fidgeting. 

3. Swaying or Rocking

Similar to pacing, swaying or rocking is another movement-related way our body reacts to nerves. If you have ever seen someone stepping back and forth or swaying while giving a speech, that should be an immediate sign that they are not exactly in their comfort zone. 

4. Leaning

Leaning is another big tell of nervousness. If a person is confident, often their posture and stance will display that. It makes sense then that if someone is nervous, their posture is often one of the first things to go. Oftentimes, when nervous, people will lean heavily to one side or the other, so this is another big cue that should be easy to pick up on. 

5. Freezing

Many of the signs of nervousness above have been related to excessive movement. There is, however, a sign of nervousness that is the exact opposite- freezing. It is not uncommon for the body to freeze in times of stress and anxiety. There is essentially so much energy swirling around, that your body doesn’t know what to do with it. Instead of trying to release the energy or deal with it, the body freezes. Freezing can be one of the more difficult signs of nervousness to overcome, so it is important to recognize if that is the case for you.

6. Cracking Knuckles

These days it is not uncommon for people to crack their knuckles. In fact, studies show as many as 54% of people crack their knuckles- over half! This nervousness body language can quickly evolve into a habit, so it is important to be aware of the moments you find yourself cracking your knuckles. 

7. Crossed Arms

Crossed arms can often be a sign of hostility or disinterest. It can also be a nervousness body language cue. By folding our arms, we are physically closing ourselves off and “protecting” ourselves from those around us. It can be a quick reaction to feeling nervous, but is also a very obvious tell of discomfort so it is important to recognize and combat this sign. 

8. Picking at or Biting Nails

One of the most commonly thought of signs of nervousness or stress is the picking at or biting of nails. Not only is it an extremely noticeable sign of discomfort, it can also be incredibly distracting and even unprofessional to others. This is another sign that can quickly turn into a habit, so keep a special eye out for this. 

9. Avoiding Eye Contact

It takes strength and confidence to maintain eye contact, which is why the police often use it as a way to tell if people are telling the truth or not. If a person is uncomfortable, they will most likely look away or break eye contact, often indicating they are not being truthful. On the other hand, if someone is able to maintain eye contact then there is a certain level of confidence and assuredness that they hold, meaning they could be telling the truth. The same thing can be applied to dealing with nerves. If you are not feeling confident or sure of yourself, it is much less likely that you will be able to hold eye contact, and people will pick up on that. 

10. Voice Tells

There are many different voice tells when it comes to signs of nervousness. The most common and obvious is a quivering voice. A quivering voice is one that is shaky and may cut in and out. Another voice tell is any general change in pace, typically to a faster speed of talking. This occurs when the built-up energy begins to come out through a rapidly increasing pace of talking. Finally, words like “um” and “like” are crutches that are often used to fill space in times of nervousness. Whatever your voice tell may be, these signs of nervousness can be very obvious and distracting to others, but are also some of the easiest to fix with practice. This will be discussed more below. 

11. Blushing

Blushing, especially facial blushing, is a big nervousness body language cue. It is also something that is much harder to control than many of the other signs discussed above. It is a natural reaction of the body and is not necessarily something we can turn on and off. There are some different medicines and therapies that can help combat facial blushing, but for some, surgery is a viable option as well. The Center of Hyperhidrosis is an expert in the field of facial blushing and facial blushing treatments. If this is your body’s sign of nervousness and you would like to learn more about facial blushing and available treatment options, check out more information here! 

12. Sweating

Last, but certainly not least, is sweating. It is a sign of nervousness that is easily recognized and difficult, if not impossible, to hide or overcome by yourself. A little sweating of the hands or feet may be a natural reaction to a stressful situation, but there is such a thing as excessive sweating. If you find yourself dealing with excessive sweating as a sign of nervousness, this is another area that The Center for Hyperhidrosis can help with! To learn more about why you may be excessively sweating and what we can do to help, check us out here! 

How to Overcome Nervousness

It is possible that you may exemplify one or more of these signs of nervousness. There are many other signs not listed that may apply to you too. The first step to dealing with these nervousness body language cues is to recognize which ones you exude. The next step is to learn how to overcome nervousness. 

There are many different techniques and practices dealing with how to overcome nervousness. The biggest, and most impactful technique, however, is simply to practice withholding these cues. If you are prepping for an interview, sign up for practice interviews. If you are preparing for a speech, practice in front of a mirror. Take note of which signs of nervousness you display and ask for feedback from others as well. From there, continue to practice until you get more confidence, and the signs of nervousness begin to subside. Combating nerves is all about getting into a more comfortable personal space and gaining more confidence, and the best way to do this is practice, practice, practice!

As mentioned above, there are also some available treatments for a few of the signs of nervousness that can not be as easily helped, like facial blushing and excessive sweating. If you are dealing with one of these signs of nervousness and would like to learn more about different options to help diminish them, explore the rest of the Center of Hyperhidrosis’s website! We are experts in this field and would love to help you learn more and discuss various treatment options.  

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