6 ways to stay calm the night before a big event
Maybe it’s a job interview or an important presentation you need to deliver. You’re playing the interview out in your mind like you are actually there, rehearsing how you would respond to the questions they might ask you, worrying about what they will think of you and whether you’ll get the job or not. Perhaps it’s the day of your wedding and you’re feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty dealing with a range of emotions. Or maybe you’re going on holiday and running through whether you have packed everything and doing some last-minute planning on how you are getting to the airport.
Many of us have had the dreaded experience of trying to fall asleep the night before a big exam, presentation, competition or other nerve-wracking event. Staying calm and not letting the unwanted thoughts prevent you from having a restful sleep can be challenging. It feels like your mind is going 100 miles per minute—and there's no way to pump the brakes. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to quiet those feelings and still knock that important event out of the park.
Focus on What You Can Control
Things don’t always work out exactly how we want them to and even the best laid plans can go awry, so try to tap into your inner control and roll with the punches. The truth is, when you worry about the plane being delayed or cancelled, there’s not much you can do about it. It’s also okay if you don’t get around to seeing everything you planned to, just let the day unwind in front of you and enjoy the experience with your friends or family. Mindfulness is key. Rather than worrying about the future, focus on what’s within your control right now — like getting to sleep.
Practise Deep Breathing
Deep breathing helps slowing down various functions in our body that can keep us tense and anxious. Allowing yourself to deep breathe will slow your heart rate and make it easier to drift off to sleep. Try this simple tactic to unwind: count to yourself “1, 2, 3” as you inhale so the breath lasts about 3 long seconds then say “one.” Then count “1, 2, 3” as you exhale and say “two.” Continue to count “1, 2, 3,” stating the round aloud with each inhale and exhale.
Give Yourself a Positive Pep Talk
Your self-talk plays an enormous role in the way you approach the night. Your brain decides how your body will react, so keep it positive and light. Tell yourself things like, “I’m going to have such a restful night” and “Tomorrow’s going to be a great day.” You might feel silly when you tell yourself things you don’t believe are true at the time, but the more you say them out loud, the more your brain starts to believe it’s true. Positive attitude is key. Avoid thinking of yourself and an upcoming event in a negative way. Instead of thinking, “I know I’m going to fail” try and think “I’ll do my best”. It will train your brain to think positively, which will be the source of your future attitude.
Listen to Soothing Music
Music that has a relatively slow beat may help your body hit its internal snooze button easier. Studies show that relaxing tunes can calm your autonomic nervous system, which leads to slower breathing, reduced heart rate, and lower blood pressure, all of which help you sleep.
Share your Thoughts and Feelings
Bounce your fears and doubts off others. You’ll find immediate relief in your ‘stress’ as you share your concerns. Let your family and friends know how you’re feeling and what you may be concerned about. Writing in a journal is another routine you can follow. Sometime before bed, jot down some thoughts about your day. If any worries or problems come up, be sure to write them down with possible solutions to accompany them. Once you do this, shut the book and imagine you are symbolically shutting away all the cares and thoughts from the day until you next want to open the journal and look at them.
Control How You Interpret Stress
Physical signs of stress, such as sweating, rapid heart rate, jitters can be interpreted in two different ways and can produce very different reactions. It’s up to you how you decide to interpret them. If you view your feelings as negative and threatening, it will clearly hurt your performance or ability to act confidently. Instead, put a positive spin on it. Those feelings are an indication that you’re getting prepared for a big event; the feeling is not anxiety but rather excitement. Decide that it’s going to be fun, an adventure and that your nerves are a good thing that energise you and help you do your best.