If you’re the type of person who feels nervous in different situations (which is probably most people to be fair) then chances are you’ve quite a few ideas for ways to calm your nerves.
You’ve probably given calming breaths a go. Maybe done a bit of visualisation or repeated some calming mantras to yourself.
You might even have tried a few power poses to put yourself in a positive, more powerful state of mind.
But I’m not sure if you’ll have heard of this little trick before.
Before you head into the situation that is making you feel nervous, try chewing some gum.
It’s really simple, but that’s possibly why it works.
See our brains, as amazing as they are, are pretty lazy at times. They look for shortcuts and often work on habits and routine to make decisions on how we react to things.
As a general rule if we were under any kind of threat, we wouldn’t take the time to sit and eat something.
So eating, or simply chewing some gum, tricks our brains into thinking that everything is fine and that we’re relaxed, comfortable and not under threat at all.
Basically, our brains tell us that because we’re chewing gum, we’re not nervous or scared. Because if we were nervous or scared, we wouldn’t be doing something like chewing gum.
I know this sounds a bit silly really, tricking our own brains by doing something we believe we wouldn’t be doing if we were nervous.
But when you look at the psychology of it, it does make sense.
When our thoughts and our actions don’t match up we experience cognitive dissonance. We feel a sort of mental discomfort and need to change either our thoughts/beliefs or our actions to feel better again.
In this situation it seems to happen without us really realising.
Our brains catch us chewing gum and this doesn’t fit with how we normally act if we’re nervous. So rather than making us experience this cognitive dissonance, it decides for us that we must not be nervous if we’re chewing.
It has to be worth a try doesn’t it!