Dealing With Performance Anxiety
A guest blog by Valerie Walker
Clinical Hypnotherapist, Licensed Master NLP Practitioner and BrainWorking Recursive Therapy® Certified Practitioner
What is your greatest fear?
There are few things in life that can create a state of anxiety and nervousness in so many, and so quickly, as having to perform in public. Performance anxiety can happen to any of us, be it performing on stage or in a sport, right through to giving a speech at a wedding or work. So strong is our fear of public humiliation or disgrace, it can generate the same emotional reaction in us as coming face to face with an escaped tiger from the zoo.
Performance anxiety is, as the name indicates, classed as an anxiety disorder, and more specifically a social phobia. Like any anxiety, it is measured on a continuum of severity which ranges from a healthy low level, which can in fact improve performance, to the severely debilitating symptoms of what is often dubbed ‘‘stage fright", which can progress to a full-blown panic attack.
Worry over performing in public kick-starts your sympathetic nervous system and plunges you into the freeze-flight-fight response mode. It is a natural reaction designed to help keep you safe and well, but if you are unable to move out of this phase or you experience it with increasing regularity and severity, it can have a profoundly negative effect, not only on your immediate performance but your long-term health.
Symptoms of performance anxiety are numerous and include; increased heart rate, hyperventilation, nausea, sweating, blushing, shaking, dry mouth, loss of voice, memory block…and many more.
As with any skill, the more you repeat it the better you get, which is why repetition and rehearsal are a must before any performance. Unfortunately, the same is true for anxiety attacks. The more you repeat the performance the better you get at it! Your more basic instinctive brain, tasked with keeping you safe and well, doesn’t know the difference between what is right and wrong and once you establish a strong pattern or behaviour, it will keep repeating it whenever you are faced with similar triggers or associations.
This is where Hypnotherapy, NLP and BWRT can help, by interrupting the negative, unhelpful responses you are instinctively generating when faced with performing, and replacing them with more positive responses and behaviours. In particular, BWRT is a powerful fast-acting therapy that can get positive results in as few as 2 or 3 sessions. If you are struggling with your Edinburgh Festival performance or have a big presentation or speech looming, then get in touch now.