Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by anna. anna Wonders, “what happens when you are nerves?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, anna!

You’re at the free-throw line with two shots and a chance to win the game. You’re about to take a big test in history class. You’re standing in front of the class with your science project.

What do all these scenes have in common? Each one would make most people nervous! These are just a few examples of times when people feel higher levels of stress and anxiety. All sorts of situations make different people nervous. What makes one person nervous might not affect another person at all.

The situations that create stress and anxiety may begin in the mind. But they don’t stay there! Nerves can cause many physical symptoms. You might have a racing heartbeat. Maybe you start sweating. Many people experience heavy breathing and an upset stomach. These are all common signs of stress.

Why do our bodies react this way? Experts believe we’ve been programmed that way for hundreds of thousands of years. Long ago, the things that caused stress were often physical dangers. They could include predatory animals like bears and big cats. When coming face-to-face with such danger, the body goes into a “fight or flight” mode.

The typical physical responses to stress are caused by adrenaline surges. These prepare the body either to fight or take flight (run away). For example, if you had to outrun a bear, your body would be preparing you to take flight!

Your increased heart rate and breathing help to deliver more oxygen to your muscles. Increased sweating acts to keep your body temperature normal while your muscles work harder. These responses work together to help you fight or flee. Today, though, most of the things that cause us to be nervous aren’t immediate, physical dangers. Still, our brains react with many of the same bodily responses.

So what can you do when you feel nervous? Try a few breathing exercises. These can help slow your breathing rate and racing heart at the same time. Taking control of your thoughts can also help to lower stress and anxiety. Focus on positive things you can control, rather than worrying about things you can’t.

It also helps to identify those situations that cause you stress and anxiety. Then, prepare for these situations in advance as much as possible. This way, you’re not taken by surprise when the event arises. It can also help to talk with a trusted friend or family member. They might be able to offer advice or help you feel better.

People feel stress in many different situations, but one thing is certain—we all feel nervous sometimes! What helps you feel better? Find ways to calm yourself during stressful situations. These practices can definitely help you out in the future!

Standards: NGSS.LS1.D, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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