Performance anxiety is a major problem for many. Most of us dread having to get on stage and perform or act in front of others. Whether it is athletics, business presentations, public speaking, or anxiety regarding sexual performance, most of us have experienced a lot of emotion when put into a situation where we are required or expected to perform. While most of us are not going to eliminate our performance anxiety, we can significantly reduce it and make it manageable.
Some of the symptoms of performance anxiety are:
• Racing pulse and rapid breathing
• Dry mouth and tight throat
• Trembling hands, knees, lips, and voice
• Sweaty and cold hands
• Nausea and an uneasy feeling in your stomach
• Vison changes
Working with Performance Anxiety
The first step is reducing your self-judgment or negative thinking about your performance anxiety. Thinking and feeling you are defeated or going to perform poorly because you are anxious will increase the anxiety. Typically people who get a lot of anxiety are overly conscientious about others and themselves. Ultimately, anxiety is a normal response for a large percentage of people who are required to perform.
Another positive way to look at performance anxiety is to understand that the anxiety is emotion for what we are going to do. It is important that we must bring emotion to the performance or else we will not have the energy needed to connect with the audience. The emotion can be looked at as fuel for the performance. Because often one starts with anxiety and quickly moves into another emotion that is more enjoyable.
The second step in reducing the performance anxiety is accepting the anxiety itself. Close your eyes and put your mind’s attention inside your body. Now notice the sensations and emotions inside your body. As you sit and notice take slow gentle breaths. Pay attention your breathing and how you are responding to focusing on your breath. Many people notice the anxiety drop as they start their breathing. Now say in your mind, “I completely accept this anxiety fully”. You could even say, “I have anxiety because I am a caring considerate person. Say it gently while breathing in and out. By saying “I accept this anxiety” while keeping the body relaxed and the breathing slow you might notice how your body shifts or feels different.
That is a cognitive-mindfulness process that can be helpful. When I work with clients I also guide them on how to be aware (notice), accept, release, replace, and integrate (create a new story or reality). This is my basic therapeutic process that can produce results immediately…especially in the first session because the anxiety is often high for a therapy session.
If you are interested in learning how to significantly reduce your performance anxiety contact Isaiah Hulme (916)743-6698 to discuss the possibility of setting up an appointment in Roseville.