5 Ways to Ease Performance Anxiety
Having anxiety or stage fright about performing is fairly common among artists. Even big names who have been performing for years still get racked with nerves now and then. Being anxious or down right terrified to perform can be hard to face and overcome, but getting a handle on it is completely possible. If you are struggling with performance anxiety, try these five things to help ease your discomfort before the next time you take the stage.
Any good artist will tell you that the worst thing you can do for your art is think about it. This seems completely contradictory to your rational mind, but letting go and allowing the creative force to take over is where true creative genius is found. Getting lost in your head before you take the stage is setting yourself up to be dead in the water. Remind yourself that the performance has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the art. Make a conscious effort to suspend your rational mind and let it go, making the art and audience your optimal focus and not the ball of fear that’s going on in your mind.
Be mindful of how you are breathing. If your heart is pounding and your breath is coming rapidly it’s going to put your body in fight or flight mode. Purposefully focus on slowing your breath. Inhale and exhale deeply from your diaphragm. Follow your breath all the way in and all the way out. In a very short time your breathing will even out and you will grow calmer. Nerves can work for you because nervous energy is still energy, and that can be a great asset to bring to your performance. However, you want to be controlling your energy, not have it be controlling you.
Repeat a Mantra
If there is a particular mantra or quote from an artist you respect that has brought you peace and confidence in the past, repeat it to yourself as you breathe before you go on stage. This positive reinforcement will put you in the proper head space to give it all you have without fear.
Sip Herbal Tea
Herbal tea taste delicious and also contains ingredients that are healthy and beneficial for relaxation. The menthol in peppermint tea is a natural relaxant, which can help unwind tense muscles. This will calm you and have the added benefit of relaxing your throat if you are a singer.
Trust the Process
You have prepared well. You’ve put in the time, the work, the hours of rehearsal. You know this material, you know what to do. Now trust the process. Trust that your body knows what to do, your mind knows the words to say, and just get out there and do it. The creative energy will take over and you’ll be fine.
It’s easy to get lost in your head and worry and obsess over what you are about to do. Yet taking the conscious effort to re-direct your focus and get out of your head will calm you down and allow you to perform at your best.