Knots and butterflies in your belly. Heart and mind racing. Sweaty palms. Shortness of breath.
These symptoms can be pretty hard to shake right before a big job interview.
But here’s the kicker: it’s all in your head.
“Anxiety and jitters come from not knowing what is going to happen -- basically, fear of the unknown,” says Katherine Walker, Founder and Executive Director of Lifetime Behavioral Health.
Countless stress experts agree that the No. 1 solution to minimize pre-interview anxiety is solid preparation.
It’s a no brainer!
If you don’t read about your company and research your role in-depth, you’re bound to magnify your fear of interviewing poorly and losing the opportunity. Rehearse tough interview questions and make sure you’ve pinned down super smart questions that will blow your potential employers away.
But being armed with all the preparation in the world, even Kobe Bryant reportedly still gets goose bumps right before game time. To help calm those butterflies, consider other tested methods:
1. Positive Self-Talk
I'm prepared. I can do this. Stay calm and relaxed. This job is mine. I can ace this interview in my sleep. Repeat phrases like these in your head or out loud and you’ll start feeling more confident, Walker says.
2. Breathe Slowly 10 Times
You need about 10 slow, deep breathes to calm nervousness, according to Walker.
“To be effective, the deep breather should focus on taking the breath in through the nose (until they can't take in anymore air) and out through the mouth 10 times being careful not to hyperventilate.”
3. Release Muscle Tension
Walker also suggests a classic progressive muscle relaxation technique. The way it works is you focus entirely on relaxing every part of your body “and not moving to the next body part until the first feels relaxed,” Walker says. Relax your toes first, working upward to the top of your head.
4. Visualize Success
Joyce Marter, founder and psychotherapist at Urban Balance, stresses the power of self-fulfilling prophecy.
“If you don’t believe you will get the job, you won’t,” Marter says, because your negative thinking will deflate your performance.
Instead, picture yourself knocking your interview out of the park – and you’ll increase you your chances of making it happen.
5. Release by Writing
Writing your thoughts and fears can be extremely cathartic. Write down exactly how you’re feeling. You’ll get a sense of clarity about the situation. Then, crumble up the paper and throw it away—it’ll help you let those feelings go!
6. Take a Leisurely Walk
Exercise releases endorphins, which is great to de-stress. Note: This is no time to produce beads of sweat by pacing back and forth or full-on running on the treadmill. Instead, take a casual walk to avoid sitting tensely in one place.
7. Eat Light and Hydrate
The last thing you want is to emit strange sounds during your interview! Make sure you eat lightly to avoid stomach growls and indigestion. You can’t go wrong with a fresh salad!
Water is a must to rejuvenate your body—bring a bottle with you into the interview because your nervousness might cause dry mouth.
8. Avoid Coffee
Coffee is actually a source of jitteriness—so it’s best to avoid at all cost! Now we know a lot of us are dependent on coffee to perk us up. Solution: see No. 9.
9. Chew Gum
Studies show that chewing gum helps relieve anxiety and makes you more alert! Disclaimer: DO NOT chew gum during the interview—it makes for a terrible first-impression. But maybe chew on a stick on your drive there.
It’s fairly simple: smiling signals your body to ease up.
“If you can slow your breathing down and change your expression, you may be able to turn around the stress cascade,” Mark Stibich, PhD, consultant at Columbia University tells LiveStrong in their article “Health Benefits from Smiling.”