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Performance anxiety and how to deal with it

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Performance anxiety

Performance anxiety can affect all singers.

Yes it does. Performance anxiety affects singers of all ages and skill levels. The day that you lose that feeling is the day that you're finished basically. Very often people get their feelings of anxiety and excitement confused. This is because they are very similar in the nervous system. So when you feel nervous maybe you should ask yourself is it really nerves? Or, perhaps, is it actually excitement and the feeling you have is just you being excited about going on stage and wanting to perform to your best and not just perform, you want to really get in there and give your best. Remember, you're only as good as your last performance. So, if the day comes and you just don’t get that funny feeling in your tummy or even a slight hint of nerves, it’s simply because you just aren’t into it that much anymore.

Nerves are natural, it’s important to not let them hold you back.

Nerves can be a good thing and not only that, but they can be a fantastic thing. It’s like imposter syndrome, very often we think everybody else is perfect and has everything sorted. That, however, is not necessarily the case and nerves simply help us to become better and strive to be the best possible version of ourselves. They also show that you care and are passionate about what it is that you are doing. It is important to remember that nerves are perfectly natural, every human being encounters them, some even encounter them on a regular basis. Nerves can be a good thing as long as we have ways of dealing with them and preventing them from getting in the way.

Remember, just breathe!

Well breathing is of course a very very good one so, there's two breathing exercises I would recommend.

One of them is called ‘box breathing’. So breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, so breathing in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, out for four seconds, hold for four seconds, in for four seconds, out for four seconds and so on.

Then the second one would be to take a nice big breath in and then to do a sustained hiss for as long as possible. This pretty much recalibrates things and sends messages to the brain saying everything is alright. It reassures one’s mind and helps promote the feeling of relaxation. It helps stop the fight or flight mode breathing and settles everything down, so generally after that the nervous system settles down and you’re able to perform. You can do the exercises a few times if you have to, everybody is different.

Don’t let performance anxiety prevent you from being the star you’re destined to be!

Not at all, many people have performance anxiety and are highly successful, it simply means they care an awful lot. Imposter syndrome can get in the way but I wouldn't really worry about it , just realize that you're getting up there , you're actually doing something and people might take cheap shots at you but they're not the ones on the stage putting themselves forward. The only way to become successful is to go up there on the stage and face the demons. You have just got to get up there and do it!

Anxiety is something most of us experience at some point.

Fear is the main cause. You just have to sit with the fear and maybe reframe it into being a fear of the unknown. A fear of the unknown is something most of us experience at some point or another. Other fears can be a fear of success and fears of failure, so you could be fearing what will my life be like if I'm successful, because that means things change, or you feel comfortable staying how things are as you know what things are like already. On the other hand, you don't know how things would be if you step outside your comfort zone and go forward. When you're about to go on stage and you're looking over the edge and you're saying do I want to go out there or not , that's kind of a scary moment and you can choose to stay exactly where you are, where things will remain the same and you won't grow, or to step forward and do it, that's the difference between the people who do nothing and say negative things, the keyboard warriors, and the people that get out there on the stage who face their fears and do their best.

Performance anxiety can have a negative impact on your performance.

You could be getting the words mixed up or even forgetting them completely, all those things, you just have to learn coping mechanisms so that you can breathe through it and reframe things, we've all heard about that picture everybody naked thing , you've got to set yourself up for success. What you do before you get out on stage is really important, so is there a particular music that's going to get you in the right zone? Is it going to be meditating? Is it going to be breathing? Is it surrounding yourself with the right people? Is it wearing your lucky socks? What is it that's going to set you up for success so that you get into the right mindset before you go on that stage. It is different for everybody, you have to know what your trigger is and make sure that you have a toolkit available to you that you can pull out which consists of all the things that can set you up for success.

Performance anxiety has many symptoms.

If experiencing performance anxiety, you will know. There are many symptoms. You will feel awful to start with, you will get a funny feeling in your tummy and begin to get scared of what may or may not happen. You will start to question yourself, you can also experience a fear of success or failure. These two fears are very similar. One is internal, while the other is external. You may also begin to ponder the thought of what others may think if you fail, or even if you succeed. During all of this, it is important to note that these feelings are common and you just have to try and relax.

Be the star you are meant to be!

I remember one of the first weddings that I did, I nearly threw up. I was just so nervous and really, getting past that is all about conquering the breath and also realizing that generally the people out in the audience want you to succeed, because if you fail it's awkward for everyone. There are some that will be glad you mess up and some people that take enjoyment out of that, they think they're funny but nobody wants to see somebody mess up on stage or forget the words. People have come to the performance, they paid for their tickets, they've done everything on their part, now they want you to succeed as they want to have a good time too. If you're having a bad time they're having a bad time, it's your job to be having a good time so maybe reframe it like that! It is my job to go out there and have a good time, it's not my job to go out there and question myself and think that the audience hates me and wants me to fail. The audience wants you to succeed, they have showed up to the performance, now it’s your turn.

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