Skip to content


When you’re facing a challenging situation, it’s only natural to be nervous. Nervousness is nothing to be ashamed of or deny. In our culture, it is common to think that nervousness should not show. This cover-up can create the illusion that no one else is ever nervous. However, most of us occasionally feel nervous in various interaction and performance situations. 70% of Finns sometimes feel nervous when performing.


It’s easy to think of nervousness as a predictor of poor performance. However, a suitable amount of nervousness is part of a good performance because this is how we tune in to the situation. Nerves indicate that an important situation is about to happen. This is when our bodies and minds tune in to the challenge and strive for higher performance.

This tuning in is triggered by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. In the body, this activation can be felt as an increase in heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, or hand tremors, among other things.

The physical reaction is natural, but many of us react to it by becoming nervous. In this case, the sensations in the body feel frightening. There is a fear that our blushing, sweating, or shaking will be visible to the outside world. Feelings of uncertainty and thoughts of failure take over our mind, which only strengthens the body’s reaction.


It’s worth learning to know your own nervousness.

  • In which parts of your body do you feel the nervousness, and what are the feelings like?
  • Do you experience these feelings before, during, or after an uncomfortable situation?

By learning to recognise your feelings, you can learn to accept them as natural reactions and find ways to calm yourself and relax. In addition, by identifying the worst situations for you, you can find appropriate ways to cope with them.


Performance anxiety is a familiar experience for many. In the short term, such pressure can be useful. Anxiety becomes a problem if it completely prevents you from coping with the situation and starts to clearly limit your life.

The most common bodily sensations associated with performance anxiety are an increased heart rate, flushing, sweating, and trembling. We may also experience restlessness and agitation. Some people’s minds are filled with distressing thoughts, in which their own performance is seen as a failure and poor. For others, their mind feels frazzled and they have difficulty concentrating.

It also varies from individual to individual, which stage of a performance the anxiety occurs. For some, the anxiety is strongest before the performance, when the situation is being prepared and anticipated. Others experience a peak of anxiety just after the performance has started, and the feeling may ease once they get going. Some people are very anxious until the end, but the situation eases once the performance is over. There are also those for whom the most painful experience is related to the post-performance state, for example, being overly critical of their own performance.


Some people consider a good performer to be someone who does not show any outward nervousness. However, this cannot generally be considered a sign of a good performer. Many good, experienced performers are very nervous.

In many situations, the lack of nervousness can be more of a problem than nervousness. For example, if you aren’t nervous at all about giving a presentation, you may not prepare well for it.

There is, therefore, no direct correlation between the quality of a performance and the perceived nervousness. It’s also important to remember that being nervous and feeling the associated emotions does not mean that the performance has gone badly or failed.