Goofy Things Can Work
Dont denigrate anything that works. Weird or nonsensical cures work because you believe they work. If you believe that eating a special food on performance day helps, do it. Believing is 99% of the battle. For me, I believe that eating donuts or pancakes and caffeine before a concert is very helpful. Some people have a lucky ring, or wear lucky shoes. Or they follow a ritual routine on the day of the concert.
It doesnt matter what it is. It doesnt matter whether it is scientifically proven. If you have convinced yourself that it works, then do it.
Practice Practice And More Practice
Practice isnt just running drills, its a chance to get comfortable with the pressures of the game, whatever game you might be playing.
If youre new to the sport and feeling on edge, try visualising yourself going through the motions. Run through scenarios and drills until youre confident. This kind of mental rehearsal will allow you to get comfortable with the sport and the coachs instructions, but it will also help you mentally prepare for the game and lower your anxiety levels.
When youre feeling that pressure, you dont have to rely on instinct. Instead, you can go through it in your head so you know what to do when the time comes.
If youre an experienced player, but youre still experiencing performance anxiety, try breaking down what makes you nervous. Is the game too important? Are you worried about letting your teammates down? Are you afraid of getting injured? Once you identify what makes you anxious, you can start finding ways to deal with that anxiety.
Repeat Your Process Cue
In Step #1, we talked about your intention this was your goal or desired outcome for your performance. A process cue is how you want to achieve that intention. What mental or physical reminder do you want for yourself as you process and go through your performance? For example, an interviewers process cue might be, Smile and ask great questions. Or a violinists process cue might be, Smooth and good tempo. If you are giving a presentation, it could be, Keep it positive and engaging.
Think about how you want to achieve your goal. What kind of tempo do you want? What feeling do you need to fuel you? This is your process cue and you should think of it internally as a pep talk when you are getting ready, transitioning, and during your performance to keep you grounded.
Special Note: Lets talk about your nonverbal communication! Researchers have discovered that your body language has a huge impact on how you are perceived. When most people are anxious leading up to a big moment, they engage in nervous behaviors such as pacing, self-soothing and closed-off body language where, they make their bodies as small as possible to try hiding from the world and feeling safer.
The more you expand your body, the more confident you will appear. Here are some easy ways to engage in confident body language before your performance:
- Stand like Superman or Wonder Woman
- Set your legs wide and put your hands in the air
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Try Supplements Or Change Your Diet
Changing your diet or taking supplements is definitely a long-term strategy. Research shows certain supplements or nutrients can help anxiety reduction.
However, it can take a few months before your body is actually running on the nutrition these herbs and foods provide. If youre taking other medications, make sure to discuss herbal remedies with your doctor as there can be adverse reactions.
Technique : Accept Pre
The first technique involves accepting your pre-performance nerves. Instead of always trying to fight the nervous feelings, just accept their presence. By always trying to convince yourself that the nerves are not there, or by focusing so much on getting rid of them, you will only be adding fuel to the flame.
I know that me telling you to accept your nerves can seem a little contradictory but let me explain why it is so important. The easiest thing to do when faced with something we dont like about ourselves is to avoid it.
Acceptance is the first step towards creating change. There is no way for you to overcome performance anxiety until you acknowledge its existence. And the best way to do that is through the acceptance of pre-performance nerves, since that is where the anxiety often shows itself the most.
I promise it will be incredibly scary. However, if you truly want to gain control over the anxiety, this is a necessary step.
In taking this step, you can now begin to work on other techniques that will build confidence in your abilities. It will be easier said than done. However, just stick with it and every time you feel yourself getting nervous from now on, stop and think, I accept my nerves and allow them to be present.
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How To Thrive Under Pressure
How are elite athletes consistently able to rise to the challenge when faced with the tough competition? Research shows that self-confidence plays a role in how you respond to symptoms of anxiety during athletic performance.
If you are confident in your ability, you are more likely to have a positive reaction to being “pumped up” and will thrive on the challenge of competition. Elite athletes are often so focused on their behavior that they interpret arousal as excitement rather than anxiety.
In general, self-confidence tends to be highest when you believe in your ability and feel that you have properly prepared for a competition.
Worry and confidence are at opposite ends of the spectrum when confidence is strong, it tends to crowd worry out of the mind.
Performance Anxiety Type : Sexual Performance
The origins of sexual performance anxiety are a bit more obvious. This is a society that puts considerable pressure on how people perform in the bedroom, the size of their genitals, the need to please the partner, and so on. Combine this with inexperience, a bad sexual experience, or perceived trouble at finding sexual partners, and it is no surprise that some people develop performance anxiety in sexual situations.
How the performance anxiety manifests may differ. The most common ways include:
No matter the effects of anxiety, there is no denying that anxiety itself can create more anxiety. The more you are worried about your performance, the more your performance suffers, and the more you worry about performance in the future.
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The Performance Anxiety Cycle
In many cases, men start to become preoccupied by negative thoughts. This leads to more failures and increased anxiety. Once this occurs, a sexual performance anxiety cycle, or a negative feedback loop can be created.
Thats why its important the treat sexual performance anxiety soon than later!
The Causes Of Performance Anxiety
A mixture of personal and situational factors can cause performance anxiety. Some examples of personal factors include :
- Fear of evaluation or judgment
- Lack of preparation or experience
- A generally high level of anxiety or anxiety-related mental health conditions
- Low self-confidence or low self-esteem
- Shyness or introversion
Some examples of situational factors include:
- Lots of spectators or a high level of public scrutiny
- High stakes
- A difficult partner, viewer, or someone else who gives you anxiety
For someone who is very shy, even a small group of observers or low stakes could lead to performance anxiety. On the other hand, even professional musicians or athletes experience performance anxiety during high-stakes situations.
Other factors can also stoke performance anxiety. For example, if youve performed poorly in a situation in the past, that can create a lot of anxiety when youre confronted again with the same or a similar situation .
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How To Get Over Performance Anxiety
Many people experience nervousness, jitters, and, in some cases panic, when expected to complete a task under pressure. Performance anxiety, or stage fright, can prevent you from doing tasks such as giving a speech or presentation, meeting or interacting with new people, being in large crowds, and performing sexually or on stage.
There are many different types of performance anxiety, including social anxiety disorder and sexual performance anxiety. The latter is more popular than you may think. In fact, it affects 9-25% of men and 6-16% of women. Thankfully, there are plenty of methods to help you overcome your performance anxiety.
Performance Anxiety: How To Manage
Performance anxiety is worry or fear that stems from being judged by others in a negative light. Its common during music or sports activities, public speaking, and sex. And it can mess with performance in many ways. There are helpful remedies for performance anxiety. These sometimes include medications, but more typically psychotherapy or other non-drug anxiety-fighting techniques.
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Identifying Sexual Performance Anxiety
Sexual performance anxiety is sometimes misdiagnosed as erectile dysfunction. While the condition could cause erectile dysfunction, these are two different conditions.
Sexual performance anxiety is not a recognized medical condition, which often makes diagnosis and treatment difficult. The shame usually attached to sexual dysfunction conditions also prevents people from seeking help from a doctor or healthcare provider.
For a diagnosis of sexual performance anxiety to be made, any other reasons for your diminished sexual performance, such as other medical conditions, will have to be ruled out. A psychotherapist typically makes a diagnosis of SPA.
Talk To Your Coach Or Mentor
If youre having trouble overcoming competitive anxiety and its becoming a problem, reach out to your coach or mentor. They might be able to offer some advice or help you find ways to calm your nerves down. If youre feeling overwhelmed and need someone to talk to, they can be a great resource and theyve likely dealt with it before so they know the best way to help.
Not only can they help you get through your nerves, but they can also help you find ways to prevent them from happening again. If youre nervous about talking to your coach or mentor, consider talking to a therapist. A mental health professional can help you work through your anxiety and develop new coping strategies that are right for you.
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Overcoming Sexual Performance Anxiety
If you’ve got sexual performance anxiety, see a doctor — someone you’re comfortable enough with to discuss your sex life. The doctor will examine you and do some tests to make sure a health condition or medication isn’t the cause of your problems.
During the exam your doctor will ask about your sexual history to find out how long you’ve had sexual performance anxiety and what kinds of thoughts are interfering with your sex life.
Medications and other therapies can help treat erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems that have physical causes. If a medical issue isn’t to blame, your doctor might suggest you try one of these approaches:
Talk to a therapist. Make an appointment with a counselor or therapist who has experience in treating sexual problems. Therapy can help you understand and then reduce or get rid of the issues that are causing your sexual performance anxiety. If you worry about premature ejaculation, for example, you can try some techniques that help you gain more control.
Be open with your partner. Talking with your partner about your anxiety can help ease some of your worries. When you try to reach a solution together, you may draw closer as a couple and improve your sexual relationship.
Get intimate in other ways. Learn how to be intimate without sexual intercourse. Give your partner a sensual massage or take a warm bath together. Take turns pleasing each other with masturbation so you don’t always have to feel pressured to perform sexually.
Causes Of Sexual Performance Anxiety
Sex is more than just a physical response. Your emotions have something to do with it, too. When your mind is too stressed out to focus on sex, your body can’t get excited either.
Lots of different worries can lead to the problem:
- Fear that you won’t perform well in bed and satisfy your partner sexually
- Poor body image, including concern over your weight
- Problems in your relationship
- Worry that your penis won’t “measure up”
- Concern about ejaculating too early or taking too long to reach orgasm
- Anxiety about not being able to have an orgasm or enjoy the sexual experience
These things may lead your body to release stress hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine.
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It Is Worse For Classical Guitarists
For us classical guitarists, stage fright is extremely difficult to deal with. Both our hands must make micro-movements that leave no room for error, often at high speed. If our hands shake the slightest amount, our performance turns into a disaster. Controlling stage fright for a pianist, for example, is far easier. Compared with the thin strings of a guitar, piano keys are wide objects, relatively easy to hit accurately, even when you are shaking. I dont mean to insult pianists, but thats the truth.
Also, the classical guitarist usually performs alone. Performing alone generates a far greater amount of performance anxiety than playing in a duo or a group. In a concert situation, not only is the guitarist alone, but because of the low volume produced by the instrument, the audience is exceedingly quiet and focused on every sound the guitarist produces. As the guitarist performs, he feels that intense focus, heightening his feeling of vulnerability.
Medications To Overcome Performance Anxiety
Some medications and dietary changes may be able to help performance anxiety. Keep in mind that a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and exercise should help overcome performance anxiety. Also, food that eases the stomach such as complex high-carb foods such as rice, bread, and pasta is a good option. Limit caffeine intake and sugar intake as that can make you even more jittery. Beta-blocker medications such as propranolol , as well as pindolol acebutolol and atenolol are said to help overcome performance anxiety. These drugs are used to treat high blood pressure, tremors, heart conditions, heart attacks and migraines. These beta blockers may help reduce the fight-or-flight response in our bodies and ease adrenaline.
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Guided Imagery Mindfulness Help Separate Past Fears From Future Possibilities
This blog curates the voices of the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association. Mitchell Milch, LCSW, submits this post.
Performance anxieties are like fire alarms. They appear to exist outside of us but, in truth, are projections of what couldve, shouldve or wouldve happened to us during childhood. These recollections or fantasies are pulled into consciousness by associations between what is going on now and what we recall happened, wish could have happened, or dreaded happening long ago. Here is how to defend against these phantoms from your past so they dont influence your present.
How do you feel as you toe the starting line at a running race or face the jump ball at your rec league basketball game or wait for the opening serve at your health club tennis tournament? If youre like me and millions of other motivated, recreational athletes around the country, your instinctive effort to protect yourself from perceived threat or the expectation of threat may make you lose sight of why youre running of jumping or returning serve in the first place. You lose your focus often without even realizing it.
Research shows that two effective strategies to mediate performance anxieties are meditation and guided imageryboth elements of mental rehearsal. Remembering the past creates our anxieties and imagining the future can dismantle them. Your imagination shapes your reality, so harness it to serve your needs.
Points To Help You Handle Performance Anxiety
Violinist and performance consultant Berenice Beverley Zammit shares some helpful reminders for those dealing with stage fright, including why you should regard yourself as a superhero
1. What is performance anxiety, or stage fright?
Performance anxiety is a survival response. Whenever we get into an uncertain situation, our brain evaluates our chances of success by deciding whether the resources we have are adequate to handle the demands of the situation. Its all about your perception of your resources and the situational demand.
2. What effect does it have on me?
There are two aspects of performance anxiety: the physical and the mental aspect. The physical aspect manifests itself in cold hands, palpitations, dry mouth and so on. In string instrumentalists for example, tension may result in bow shakes. The mental aspect, on the other hand, manifests itself in worries and in catastrophising thoughts such as the fear of making mistakes which you have never done before, or sudden memory loss. So performance anxiety is a multi-dimensional construct because of these two aspects. Each of these aspects affects performance differently.
3. Why do I get nervous?
4. Are some performances better than others?
5. How can I improve performance?
6. Is the strength within us?
7. Is it a mental game?
8. How can I compete?
9. Is it OK to make mistakes?
10. Am I a superhero?
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What Is Sexual Performance Anxiety
Feeling anxious before sex is normal. However, feeling so nervous that you cannot have sex or enjoy sex might be sexual performance anxiety .
SPA is a type of performance anxiety that affects sexual activity in particular. A person who has this condition will often be overcome by a fear that theyll be unable to perform either before sexual activities or during them.
This disorder is more prevalent in men than in women. It can also lead to the development of sexual disorders such as erectile dysfunction. Sexual performance anxiety is one of the most common sexual conditions in the world today. Some research shows 9% to 25% of men are affected by SPA, and 6% to 16% of women are affected by this condition.
SPA looks a little different when it happens before sex than during sex. When it occurs before sex, it makes having sex almost impossible. Youll most likely be unable to have or sustain an erection. However, when it happens during sex, youll find that you cannot enjoy sex or even climax.
If left untreated, SPA could cause other sexual dysfunctions and cause you to lose interest in sex and other sexual activities. In a 2005 study, researchers found that performance anxiety plays a huge role in the development of sexual dysfunction in both men and women.