Performance Anxiety
Performance Anxiety avatar

Liza Simrell, LPCC-SWillow Wisdom

Performance anxiety:

Whether you are an athlete, actor, musician, comedian or anyone who is giving a performance there is a level of anxiety/nervousness to be had before and during your performance. Some people experience a level of anxiety about their performance that debilitates them from doing there best and sometimes even being able to perform. Nervousness/anxiety in small doses are normal and even good because it can give you energy to perform at your best.

You have a great talent if you are performing but sometimes that can be hard to see, especially if the stakes are high. What happens is negative thoughts cloud your mind and you start to fear the worst or you feel the pressure of the big game or the solo is just too much for you. I am here to tell you that you can overcome this anxiety. It will take hard work and dedication to doing some small things each day, but it is possible and will help you to perform at your best.

Here are some tips on how to decrease performance anxiety:

First, you have to learn to get your breathing under control. For any performer breathing is an essential task. If your breathing increases you may panic and not be able to perform. A nice steady pace for breathing is ideal. A good technique to help with this is breathing in through your nose for 4 counts and SLOWLY out through your mouth for 6-7 counts. The exhale is the most important part and will help you to relax. Make sure you are breathing from your abdomen and not your chest. You can practice this daily by setting a timer for 3 minutes and doing this breathing exercise. Do this before your performance and during if you need too.

Second, Your mind is so powerful. If you can see it, then you can do it. Visualize your performance beginning to end without any flaws. Visualize yourself making that 3 pointer, or hitting the note you normally struggle with, or having great timing with your jokes. You can also do this with your breathing technique once you have the breathing technique mastered.

Third, how you talk to yourself about your abilities will determine if you will perform at your best. If you say negative things about yourself, you will believe them and they will become true. If you tell yourself that you are good, you do have the talent, you have practiced hard, and that you are able to perform AT YOUR BEST (not anyone else’s best), you will perform at that level. So a good skill is to make a list of positive statements about you and your ability in the area you are about to perform. Repeat these things to yourself a few times a day (not just the day of the performance). Also repeat these things to yourself before the performance along with breathing and visualization.

I hope these are helpful tips. If you need more help with performance anxiety OR just want to perform mentally at a better level, contact us at The Willow Center to get help from a therapist