When you are nervous your mind races and thinks of many things; your eyes find it hard to settle on just one thing and your glance slips and slides off objects; your breathing becomes rapid and shallow. All of these actions are physical signs of nervousness.
Now, the psychologist William James became convinced that feelings not only lead to actions (you’re scared so you run away) but that actions also lead to feelings (you notice you are running away and conclude that you must be scared). I know this sounds a bit odd but please read Richard Wiseman’s book on the subject, Rip It Up. He convinced me that this idea is right. I even thought of my own example. Students often have a crush on their teacher. This could be because they find themselves in a situation where they are obliged to stare at the teacher for long periods of time. Their minds interpret this staring as them liking the teacher. It isn’t the liking that leads to staring but the staring that leads to liking. In my humble opinion.
Anyway, if certain actions can bring about certain feelings, what should you do to feel calm? Well, you should act in a way that nervous people don’t.
So if your eyes find it hard to settle on one thing when you are nervous, to be calm you should try looking at just one thing.
And if being nervous makes your mind race, then concentrating on just one thing, say your breathing, should make you feel calm.
And if feeling nervous makes you breathe more quickly and shallowly, then breathing slowly and steadily should calm you down.
And since you are concentrating on your breathing by making sure it is slow and steady, then you may as well close your eyes since looking can only distract you from your breathing by adding an extra thing to notice.