Performance Anxiety

Symptoms of Fight and Flight

  •  Lack of breath
  •  Dry mouth
  •  Nausea
  •  Trembling
  •  Shaking
  •  Increase in tension
  •  Physical rigidity
  •  Headache
  •  Racing heartbeat
  •  Shallow breathing
  •  Breathlessness
  •  Inability to focus
  •  Going blank
  •  Forgetting the music
  •  Needing the loo
  •  Losing your place
  •  Feeling distracted
  •  Loss of concentration
  •  Mounting sense of failure
  •  Wishing it were over
The Concert Singer
'All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for.'
Jon Kabat-Zinn
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George Bernard Shaw
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Stage Fright

Stage Fright Terror

'Stage fright is my worst problem... there's always this fear, because you feel naked. There's a fear of not reaching up to expectations.'

Andrea Bocelli

Stage fright is a common fear which affects many performers. If not addressed, stage fright has the potential to cripple a performance or, at the very least, the enjoyment of it. In my one-to-one sessions, I aim to help you drop those old performance nerves right down to a 'healthy' level or even make them a thing of the past altogether! It's up to you.

Allowing for 'healthy' nerves

'If you don't have a certain amount of stage fright, then it's not going to be that interesting.'

Charlotte Rampling

Nerves are normal. We all have an in-built self-preservation system which alerts us to danger. The problem with stage fright is that your nerves are being triggered by the emotional stress of performing rather than an actual threat to survival. Well, there's more than one way of looking at the definition of 'survival' I guess.

It is natural that you want to perform at your very best. The stress hormone adrenaline, triggered by the stress response, can ruin a performance through the symptoms it produces. Or, at just the right level, adrenaline can become a positive resource which works to channel extra energy into enhancing your performance!
Which would you prefer?

Perspective on performance anxiety

Performance anxiety is only fear. Only the thought of something that frightens you, giving rise to the feeling that goes with the thought, triggering a physical response to that thought. Your body's flight of flight response to fear can be of immense help if you need to run away from danger or protect yourself from injury. But you probably don't need to be doing that if you're about to sing an aria or play a sonata.

F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real

Here's something to ponder on:

Fear of that which is imagined will trigger the same stress response as an actual threat to survival.

So when you worry about what has already happened or what you imagine might happen (but essentially hasn't), you are triggering the fight or flight response in your own body. Amazing, isn't it? Your mind can do that! Adrenaline and other hormones are released, an excess of which give rise to the symptoms of stage fright. What do you think happens when you keep those imaginary fear-based thoughts going? Do you really need all that when you're about to go on?

Pacem

Fear: How the Past becomes Present

Our day to day experience is coloured by our perspective of the past. On a subconscious level, our viewpoint controls how we re-act to certain triggers. When a past experience has registered as upsetting or stressful in some way, your mind retains a memory of it. A stressful exam, a few wrong notes, a less than enthusiastic audience, a derogatory remark, an unhelpful teacher, losing your place in the score. Whatever it was, you may have forgotten it, but your subconscious mind remembers that some 'injury' occurred and is primed to alert you to any potential danger of repetition.

Fast forward to the present and a similar scenario. You are taking an exam, giving a talk, a concert, a performance, taking an audition. Alarm bells start ringing because of an unpleasant experience in the past, even though the 'danger' in the present may not be real. Circumstances have changed. You are well-prepared. However, the response is still the same adrenaline-fuelled fight and flight. Enter self-doubt, lack of confidence and both physical and mental tension, amongst other symptoms. All of this of course naturally just confirms what you feared in the first place and reinforces your anxiety. It's a vicious cycle. Yet one you can break free from, simply and easily.

'Children are happy because they don't have a file in their minds called "All the Things That Could Go Wrong."'

Marianne Williamson

New perspectives

The answer is simple. Once you change your perspective about performing then your experience of performing will automatically change too. Can you dare to imagine being without that old habit of fear? Can you imagine replacing it with a sense of excitement and anticipation?

If you can't, I can help.
If you can, but don't know how to, I've got that covered too.

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About Mind Body Music

Founder, therapist, coach and musician, Liz brings her skills and many years experience to help you explore and express your hidden potential.

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Mind Body holistic. Health & well being. Personal goals. Overcoming blocks.
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'Liz is extremely warm and approachable. Within a short time my anxiety dropped dramatically and I was able to enjoy playing on a completely different level. thank you!' AB

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