Nervous Sweating Triggers & Tips to Control Your Nerves
If you sweat uncontrollably in job interviews, on first dates or other uncomfortable situations, you understand the frustration of nervous sweating firsthand. The anxiety kicks in, and your shirt instantly takes on a new color from sweat. Even when you don’t feel nervous, you might sweat. Many times, some secret nervous sweating triggers are to blame
What Is Nervous Sweating?
Stress, anxiety and embarrassment release hormones that make you sweat. Nervous sweating is a common sweating disorder and byproduct of anxiety.
With nervous sweats, an external stimulus (like a first date or large audience) makes you anxious. As anxiety fires up your sympathetic nervous system, you sweat to cool down from all this activity.
Nervousness can signal certain areas of your body to sweat, too. For instance, if you feel stress before a big meeting, the palms of your hands, soles of your feet and underarms might start to swelter.
Some symptoms of nervous sweating include:
- Uncontrollable hot or cold sweats
- Hot or cold flashes
- Sweat due to physical activity, anxiety or no clear reason
- Sweating in one area, such as your armpits, or across your entire body
Understanding Anxiety Sweat Triggers
The idea of giving a presentation probably doesn’t make you anxious. Instead, the fear embarrassing yourself or sounding stupid stirs up anxious feelings. That's because anxiety typically stems from fear — rather than the real-life stressor itself.
When dealing with anxiety, you become less aware of the cause, and your reaction becomes the problem (nervous sweating, face flushing, etc.) And the worry and sweating steamroll into a vicious cycle that's hard to break.
Nervous sweating might force you to change shirts repeatedly or keep you from getting the job. Before you can learn to deal with nervous sweating, it’s important to understand some common sources of anxiety:
- Worry or Fear of Being Judged: Worry about your job performance, an upcoming exam or speaking to a group boils down to fear of being poorly evaluated or judged. Often, you don’t recognize these feelings as fear. First dates are always nerve-wracking. You want to make a favorable impression (everyone likes to be liked, right?) But when meeting new people, especially in that type of high-pressure scenario, it’s common to subconsciously fear the person might not like you. The same goes for interviews.
- Anticipation: Waiting for a life-changing phone call or the results of a medical test can also lead to nervous sweating. The fear releases hormones that make you sweat. And anticipation is just fear of the unknown. Consciously recognizing when you don’t have control over a situation can help minimize the anticipation and keep your nervous sweating in check.
- Shame: Financial misfortune, family loss and trauma can all lead to feelings of shame anxiety and cue nervous sweating. Everyone faces loss, trauma or other major life events at some point. Talking through these feelings and events to friends or professionals can help minimize the side effects.
- Medications: Some medications can create feelings of anxiety and promote nervous sweating. As always, if you suspect a medication is rattling your nerves, consult your doctor to discuss possible alternatives.
- Stimulants: Stimulants like caffeine activate the central nervous system, triggering your sweat glands. The heat from hot beverages like coffee also exacerbates the issue by fooling your body into thinking it’s hot. If you’re concerned about reducing nervous sweating, avoid stimulants like coffee or energy drinks that heighten your nerves.
Anxious sweating is inconvenient and uncomfortable. But it doesn’t have to control your life.
Tips to Cope With Nervous Sweating
Of course, you can’t avoid anxious feelings completely. Nervous sweating is often a subconscious process you have little control over.
When coping with anxiety and nervous sweating, self-awareness is key. Reminding yourself that the threat isn’t real can help calm your nerves.
Before your next meeting, sales presentation or onstage performance, practice some relaxation techniques to help subdue sweat. For example, visualizing success helps put your fear at bay and center your focus on performing your best.
Don’t let nervous sweating keep you from feeling confident. Try these tips to stay cool in any situation.
What other tips do you have for overcoming nervous sweating?