Anxiety is a normal part of human existence, but there are times and situations where it can become a very real problem in your life. You may be a musician, a public speaker, or an athlete and be afflicted with performance anxiety. Performance anxiety is commonly called stage fright. The anticipation of fear, failure or embarrassment can reach the point of being devastating for some. Here are 12 steps you can try to bring the problem under control and hopefully allow you to get rid of performance anxiety altogether!
1. Be positive!
Continually dwelling on past failures can stop you dead in your tracks. The same happens if you keep thinking about what might happen. Unless you have the power to see into the future, you have no way of knowing whether your next time in front of a crowd might be a bad experience. Be positive, and you will be surprised what you can accomplish!
2. Make lifestyle changes.
Lack of sleep and insufficient exercise can really take a toll and further cause you to dwell on the negative.
Cut back on the caffeine, computer time, or other activities that make you excited or agitated in the hours before you head to bed. You will get a much better sleep and feel better about yourself and the future. Also, look into forms of relaxation, such as meditation, to help you calm down and operate on a more even keel.
3. Keep practicing!
Whether you are a hockey player, a violinist, or facing a final exam, the best way to do well is to be prepared. If you are a student, make sure you have budgeted enough time to do the necessary studying by drawing up a schedule and sticking to it. If you are an athlete, attend every scheduled practice and see if there is any additional training time available to you. If you are a musician, practice every chance you get and seek advice from any professional mentors who can help you to master your craft.
4. Be sure to exercise.
Make sure to regularly exercise. Physical activity releases endorphins that can cause you to feel euphoric. Euphoria is a natural high reduces both depression and anxiety, making life easier and the challenges less daunting. All types of exercise help, even just going for a walk every day.
5. Celebrate your past successes.
Keep a journal of the positive things in your life and be sure to include the instances when you have done well in a public performance. Re-reading those positive experiences in the time before you next walk on stage or step up to the podium will help remind you that you have done this before and can absolutely do it again!
6. Create diversions in your life.
In times of stress and obligation, we often let our self-care fall by the wayside and that includes the simple pleasures in life that help one to relax. Make sure you leave enough time to indulge yourself. Go to a movie, visit friends whose company you really enjoy, and spend time in lovely natural settings. Getting your mind off things sounds simplistic, but it really can be a valuable aid.
7. Look your best, feel your best.
Self-care can also extend to your physical appearance. If we feel down, we rarely look our best, but looking good can also prevent you from feeling down. Get a haircut from that new salon you have been meaning to try and put on clothes that make the very best of your attractive qualities. Looking good increases your self-confidence and sense that you can succeed.
8. Focus on a friendly face.
It sounds simplistic, but sometimes just focusing on a friendly, smiling face in your audience can help to tone down your anxiety. If you notice someone with an expression that suggests boredom or disapproval, do not give them another glance.
You cannot possibly please everyone or even know for certain that the displeasure expressed even has anything to do with you. Let your eyes scan the room until you find someone more agreeable and focus on them instead.
9. Be yourself.
If you are able to project a positive image, audiences will usually respond to it. Smile, make eye contact, and seem invested in what you are doing. Try and act natural and be yourself to the best of your ability under the circumstances.
10. Eat right.
A proper balanced diet is key to a healthy lifestyle and you need that to operate at your best. Relying on foods heavy in sugar throws off your balance, leading to shifts in energy that can result in pronounced highs and lows.
In the hours before your big event, make sure you eat a low-fat meal that includes complex carbohydrates, such as green vegetables, beans and lentils, and whole grains. These will give you the energy and stamina you need to concentrate on the task at hand.
11. Start yourself right.
For a lot of people, the time leading up to your performance or exam will be when you are experiencing the worst of your anxiety. Once you have started, you can quickly have a good idea of how things are going. If they are indeed progressing well (and if you have done your preparations, they most likely will be), then you will feel the anxiety reduce to a manageable level.
12. Seek professional help.
When your performance anxiety reaches the point of becoming a phobia and other methods have not helped to make it better, it might be time for you to seek professional help for your problem.
These can include talk therapy, in which you discuss the problem with a therapist over a period of appointments, group therapy, where you spend time with others suffering from the same issue, or medications that help to reduce your anxiety and heart rate.
A measure of anxiety is perfectly normal and can actually aid your performance. However, there are times when anxiety can seem overwhelming and stop you in your tracks. That is also not so unusual, and if you follow the suggestions offered above, performance anxiety is something that can be conquered or at least controlled. In fact, when you are able to do this, it can be very enabling and increase your overall sense of success and value!